By Harold C. Ford
“This is a painful day today … In order for us to move forward we’ve got to learn how to forgive.” Joyce Ellis-McNeal, installed as Flint Community Schools board president after an alleged assault by Danielle Green.
“Today’s incident was a slap in our face … We were set back … I cannot tell my scholars not to fight when we, as adults, cannot control our emotions … We got to wake up as a community.” Marlis Settle, Flint Community Schools employee.
“It’s horrible … Nobody should be brutalized like that … It should never happen again, ever.” Flint resident Claudia Perkins-Milton.
At a two-hour emergency meeting of the Flint Board of Education (FBOE)Wednesday, all six members present voted unanimously to remove Danielle Green from her position as the board’s president after an alleged assault on Laura MacIntyre, the board’s treasurer, earlier in the day.
Board members present included: Joyce Ellis-McNeal; MacIntyre; Chris Del Morone; Allen Gilbert; Carol McIntosh; and Linda Boose. Green was absent from the meeting.
Green’s removal was moved by Gilbert and seconded by Del Morone.
FBOE attorney Charis Lee explained the board could not remove Green from the board. That could only happen due to death, recall, resignation, felony conviction, or removal by the governor of Michigan, Lee said.
The printed notice for the emergency meeting at Accelerated Learning Academy declared:
“A school board may meet … without complying with the notice requirement of OMA (Open Meetings Act) if it becomes necessary to deal with a severe and imminent threat to the health safety or welfare of the public … Earlier today at 10:00 AM at the FCS Administration Building, President Green allegedly assaulted Treasurer MacIntyre in an open meeting and the Board has called this emergency meeting to discuss how to keep Board members and the public safe in open meetings and discuss security implementation or other appropriate measures.”
An officer of the Flint Police Department and a security officer from Teachout Security Solutions, a security guard company contracted by Flint Community Schools (FCS), were present at the meeting.
A motion to have police and security present at all future meetings of the FBOE board and its committees “until further notice” received unanimous approval.
FBOE leadership changes
Ellis-McNeal was promoted from her vice president position to the presidency by a unanimous vote of the FBOE members present. Subsequently, McIntosh was moved into the vice presidency, also by a unanimous vote.
Boose, picked to fill an FBOE vacancy just one week ago, was given a unanimous nod to take the board’s secretary position.
“There was blood.”
“That was a physical assault,” declared Del Morone, who witnessed the event. “There was blood, there were bruises.”
MacIntyre gave a riveting account of the incident:
- “There was no fight, there was no argument … I was brutally attacked and had to seek medical attention … I really need to be laying down right now and being monitored for concussion.”
- “That individual [Green] grabbed my throat, slammed my head down on the table, punched me repeatedly in the head … I did file a police report … I plan to pursue this to the fullest extent of the law.”
Green’s public response:
Regular observers of the FBOE were hardly surprised by the events that unfolded on March 24. Months and months of tension-filled FBOE meetings have been visited by acrimonious displays of thinly-veiled anger, shouting, and name-calling. Lawsuits and asserted grievances between and among board members and central administrators have become common. Instability is a constant.
“We’ve been going through this for about a year,” Ellis-McNeal said. “This just didn’t happen today … unbelievable, the name calling … This was going to happen sooner or later.”
Nonetheless, this was likely a low point in the observable devolution of the relationships of FCS officialdom. Tears flowing from eyes and soul-searching statements attested to the seriousness of the moment for those in charge of Flint’s besieged public school system.
Residents and school officials alike somberly responded to the events of the day:
- Ellis-McNeal: “This is a painful day today … In order for us to move forward we’ve got to learn how to forgive.”
- Boose: “I have been on this board one week and it has been interesting … I feel like there’s a cloud over this entire city regarding leadership.”
- Resident Claudia Perkins-Milton: “It’s horrible … Nobody should be brutalized like that … It should never happen again, ever.”
- Resident Claire McClinton: “Flint Community Schools … is at a crossroads … You are charged with protecting, and maintaining, a public school system … Our students are kicked out every day for less than what we’re hearing happened.”
- Gilbert: “I apologize to you (MacIntyre) … All of us are responsible for what happened today … It wasn’t right … I did my best to restrain it and to stop it; it wasn’t good enough … It should not have happened to you … I am sorry for what happened to you today … This is some heavy lifting here; this is some tough sledding … This is the time to step up … This is about our children.”
- Keishaun Wade, FCS graduate, responding to a hotly contested issue that may have been the context of the outburst: “This is all about control and the people who are fighting for a stake in the Flint schools … It is not in the best interest of Flint children to partner public institutions with private entities that seek to take away the autonomy of public working people … The goal should be to keep public institutions public. [The Mott Foundation] will take anything and everything away from us to line their pockets.”
- McIntosh: “This is about control, big money, and who will get their hands on those dollars.”
- Marlis Settle, FCS employee: “Today’s incident was a slap in our face … We were set back … I cannot tell my scholars not to fight when we, as adults, cannot control our emotions … We got to wake up as a community.”
- Melanie Hemphill-Smith, FCS teacher: About police protection, “I’ve had to block parents who wanted to come up and beat up the child that fought their child and it would have been nice to have police protection … My story is not unique. Every teacher at one point has used their body as a shield to protect their students.”
- Kevelin Jones, FCS superintendent: “I want us to stay focused on the work … We have babies coming to us every day with issues, that have trauma all the time … Think about the trauma that our children go through every day.”
EVM Education Beat reporter Harold Ford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.