Farmington Schools trustees fail to appoint Stark replacement

The selection of a new Farmington Public Schools trustee will soon be in the hands of Oakland Schools officials, after local board members failed to reach consensus Tuesday.

Initially, 12 applicants sought the two-year term left open with the resignation of Jim Stark. Zach Rich, won a seat in the November 6 election, and Carmel Koshy withdrew her application.

Trustees interviewed nine candidates – Jeff Grynaviski, Mark Przeslawski, Miranda LaPan, Brian Spitsbergen, Yvonne Langley, Mable Fox, David Turner, Kevin Hafner, and Lindsay Brink, – in a marathon Saturday session, and one – Jenn Garland – before their regular Tuesday meeting. Videos of those interviews are posted on the TV-10 website: https://tv10.viebit.com/.

Tuesday’s deliberations ended with Garland, a long-time district volunteer, and Turner, a current trustee, each receiving two votes after three ballots. Board members Turner and Przeslawski were among the candidates, so only four trustees – Jessica Cummings, Terry Johnson, Angie Smith, and Terri Weems – were able to vote.

Under state law, school boards have 30 days to fill an open board seat before the intermediate school district takes over the process. Stark resigned on October 16.

During her interview, Garland said she has been a “passionate volunteer” with the Farmington PTA (Parent Teacher Association) and served on several district committees. She is founding sponsor and parent-mentor of the student-lead, anti-bullying group Farmington Empowered, “which remains one of my proudest achievements,” she said.

Garland sees the district’s greatest challenge as “the current feeling in the community, the lack of trust, the concerns over past miscommunications, the volume of changes in recent years… ongoing racial conflict, concerns about disparities between school buildings, misunderstanding over the achievement gap.”

Her work with the PTA, she said, gives her connections and experience that none of the other candidates have, and puts her in a position to hear different points of view.

Asked about how she would address racial tensions, Garland said the struggle “is nothing to shy away from or to hide from. I think it’s our community doing the uncomfortable work of systems change. That’s long, slow work. We are engaging in it… that’s a point of pride.”

Garland said she would not favor metal detectors in the high schools to improve student safety, because it would change the atmosphere for students. “I would have to see compelling evidence that detectors were needed and effective.”

Read recaps of the Saturday interviews: FARMINGTON SCHOOL BOARD APPLICANTS RESPOND TO QUESTIONS