Your Voice: Farmington Schools residents frustrated by resignations

Open letter regarding the resignation of Superintendent Herrera:

It has been an incredibly frustrating experience to take in news of our Superintendent Dr. Robert Herrera’s resignation, followed by the resignations of board president Pam Green and board vice president Terry Johnson during the School Board meeting on Monday, November 16.

The narrative created to explain these resignations is that they are the result of harassment and dysfunctional behavior instigated by two board members—specifically Ms. Angie Smith. It is appalling that the failure of district leadership to address racism in our district has been left out of the discussion. Our superintendent and board are (yet again) avoiding engaging in honest responses to accusations of racism and are deflecting responsibility to the Black women serving on our school board.

Since the murder of George Floyd by police on May 25, Black-led organizers have built a powerful Movement for Black Lives which has resulted in schools and organizations being held accountable for their claims of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

FPS students, led by Aniyah Stokes and Chelsea Hunter, were instrumental in elevating the lived experiences of Black students and teachers in Farmington schools and doing important (free) labor to demonstrate ways in which our district, our teachers, and administrators cause harm through racist actions, beliefs, instruction, and decisions. Rather than believing and responding to their experiences, we still have yet to see from the superintendent or board any sincere acknowledgement of these problems or plans for addressing them.

Ms. Angie Smith has been a vocal advocate for advancing racial justice within our schools—she has spoken not only from her experience as a Black mother but also as a tireless advocate for the many FPS families and community members who believe that this is the most important thing that our district should be focused on right now. She is not the rogue board member that she has been made out to be; she is an elected official who is fighting for us, her constituents, to assure the education, safety, and well-being of Black students and students of color.

Ms. Smith has been ignored, silenced, voted against, and criticized to a point where anyone would become frustrated, yet she has refused to be silenced so that our district can continue to ignore the racial injustice present in our schools. She is being pointed to as the problem rather than the individual giving voice to the race problem for which our FPS leaders refuse to take responsibility. Like so many other Black women in leadership roles, her behavior being policed as divisive and unprofessional is an intentional strategy to make the problems she names disappear.

The problem is not these two board members; it is the failure of this district’s leadership to acknowledge and address racism. The future superintendent of FPS and members of this board must embrace their responsibility to address these issues if they are truly invested in students and families. This is hard work, but our community is more than ready for it.

We are ready for education leadership that listens and that understands that our district’s and superintendent’s “successes” must apply to all of our students before they can be considered successes. We need leaders who can unequivocally say that Black Lives Matter at School, and who will recruit and retain administrators, teachers, counselors, school building staff, and para-professionals who bring these values to their daily work. Our kids and our community deserve this and in fact require it to survive and thrive in this world.

Katie and Matt Hayes, FPS parents

Kelli and Evan Carpenter-Crawford, FPS parents

Maddi Carpenter-Crawford, HHS class of ‘19

Sunday Taylor, FPS parent

Amanda Thielen, FPS parent

Kelly Burns Goldberg and Marshall Goldberg, parents of FPS graduates

Danielle Goldberg, NFHS class of ‘19

Jordan Goldberg, NFHS class of ‘15

LaTonya M Baldwin, parent of FPS graduate and grandparent of current Lanigan student

Sreela Datta, parent of FPS graduates

Tera Shamey, Former FPS teacher, current resident and taxpayer

Tiffiney Lee, FPS parent and Staff member

Julie Frame, Staff member

Sekeita Lewis-Johnson, Community member, parent of former FPS students

Cheryl Shah, parent of FPS graduate and student

Roxana Barnett, FPS parent

Brian Barnett, FPS parent

Danielle and Corey Ohm, Community members parents of former FPS Student

James Taylor, FPS parent

Julie Woelkers, FPS parent

Rob Woelkers, FPS parent

Francis O’Neill, FPS parent

Khaya Davidson, Community Member

Jennifer Garland, Community Member, parent of FPS graduates

Neli & Shannon Kelley, FPS parents

Chelsea Hunter, FHS class of ‘20

James Kuhl, FPS parent

Sarah Hoogterp, Community Member

Hallie Bard, FPS parent

Hans Bard, FPS uncle

Hillary Sea Bard, Child caretaker, Aunt of FPS Students

Boni and Randy Bard, Grandparents of FPS students

Chelsea Lewis, Farmington Resident and Tax Payer

Sarah Veliz, FPS parent

Sarah Littleton, Community Member

Keichea Shauntee-Wilson, FPS parent and staff member

Julia Hanson, FPS parent

Brenda Caulfield, FPS parent and alumni

Aaron Johnson, Ph.D., Former Associate Superintendent of Instruction, FPS

McKenzie Hanson, FHS Graduate, 2020

Jonah Musial, FHS Senior

Brooke Fernandez-Steingold, Community Member & Parent of FPS students

Sean Steingold, FPS Parent

Ruby Lewis, Farmington Resident, Tax Payer & FPS Grandparent

Nicol and Joseph Musial, FPS Parents

MaryBeth Sikora, FPS Restorative Practices Facilitator, Grandparent FPS students, Farmington Taxpayer

Jeremy Frame, FPS Staff Member

Emily Sikora-Grimes, FPS Parent

Maha Bayen, Parent of FPS Graduate

Naomi Khalil, Former Director of Equity, and former FPS parent

Abha and Steve Dearing, Farmington Residents

Rev. Dr. Patricia Coleman-Burns, Farmington Hills resident and Pastor, 1st AME Church of Farmington Hills

Cheryl Willette, Farmington Resident

Lester Thomas, former FPS parent, community activist

Thomas Hull, FPS parent

Zena Kyles, FPS parent/grandparent

Glenn and Mary Moore, 24 yr. residents and parent of FPS grads

Brandye Cobb, FPS Parent

 

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