DEARBORN HEIGHTS — Two weeks after unexpectedly being placed on leave for reasons not released to the public, Annapolis High School Principal Aaron Mollett has been reinstated.
Mollett had been placed on administrative paid leave “pending investigation” two weeks ago by D7 Superintendent Dr. Tyrone Weeks with no explanation to the public as to why.
After Mollett was placed on leave, students, teachers and parents staged a massive walkout on May 9 in a peaceful protest, prompting School Board President Latanya Gater to release a statement on behalf of the board:
“We validate the emotions people are expressing and we do recognize how difficult this is,” she said. “We ask for the public to trust that the people they have elected to echo their voices to represent this district are still diligently serving in those roles during this difficult time. Lastly, we ask the public to remain patient with us as we navigate through the processes and procedures that have been put in place to ensure the well-being of the district.”
A petition gathered more than 1,100 signatures in support of Mollett’s return prior to the May 17 School Board meeting that lasted more than four hours, with an hour-long protest prior to the meeting.
At the May 17 meeting, a motion put forward by Board Trustee Mary Beth Beltowski to reinstate Mollett effective immediately passed with four yes votes, two abstentions by Gater and Board Vice President Derek Wall and one no vote. Shortly after, Secretary Leslie Windless put forward a motion to put Weeks on administrative leave pending an investigation, which also passed with Gater and Wall abstaining, stating that they wanted to “wait until they had legal opinion.”
Troy Scott, the 2B Coordinating Council director for the Michigan Education Association, said in a press release that Weeks, with the support of Gater, has been making decisions for the district that are not in the interest of the district.
“Weeks, with the support of school board President Latanya Gater, has refused to negotiate a virtual learning program and instead has forced it upon teachers and families,” the press release read. “Moreover, Weeks has refused to provide any information about his online learning scheme, despite requests from the Dearborn Heights Education Association made pursuant to the state Public Employment Relations Act. In addition, Weeks has unilaterally removed a bargaining unit member from the local Administrative Assistants Union and placed her in a non-represented position, refused to compensate a teacher who suffered serious injuries after being assaulted by a student and required all central office secretaries to sign shadowy non-disclosure agreements. As it stands, Weeks is the subject of three federal Title IX complaints and a federal civil rights complaint, as well as several union grievances and unfair labor practice charges. Gater, meanwhile, attempted to ignore the request for a Title IX investigation.”
It was implied during the May 17 meeting that the reason for Mollett’s suspension was tied to “not recognizing the signs” of a student who recently died by suicide in the district. However, Scott told The Arab American News that it is believed the reason for the suspension was that Mollett was in support of the staff member filing the Title IX complaint.
“This suspension and investigation isn’t helping anyone,” he said. “That student was loved greatly and this is not helping any of the people affected heal. This is only keeping these wounds open and adding to it.”
Scott also told The Arab American News that this is only the beginning.
“I have worked with over 30 districts in the last 15 years and he’s the worst superintendent I have ever worked with, he is the biggest bully I have ever worked with,” he said. “He has no respect for employees, no respect for students, no respect for the district or the community as a whole. We do not believe this man should be superintendent of this district.”
Weeks had recently interviewed for a superintendent position with the Kalamazoo Public Schools, but was not selected.
A May 30 closed session is scheduled for the D7 School Board to go over the results of the investigation and discuss legal options.