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Niles Superintendent Douglas Law embraces a guest at his retirement party Thursday night at Orchard Hills Country Club. (Daily Star photo/KATIE JOHNSON)
Niles Superintendent Douglas Law embraces a guest at his retirement party Thursday night at Orchard Hills Country Club. (Daily Star photo/KATIE JOHNSON)

Archived Story

Law ends 39-year Niles career on bittersweet note

Published 11:09pm Thursday, June 3, 2010

By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star

It’s been a demanding past couple of months for Niles Community Schools Superintendent Doug Law – so much so he has been unable to think too much about his upcoming retirement, which begins June 30.

He’s been busy dealing with budget cuts, teacher layoffs, closing a school and paving a transition for his successor, Richard Weigel. And with less than a month to go, he still is not out of the woods yet, as he tries to get a teacher contract negotiated before he ends his 39-year career at Niles.

But Law finally had a chance to slow down for a couple of hours at his retirement celebration Thursday evening at the Orchard Hills Country Club, where dozens of friends, family and colleagues gathered. During the party, he took a few moments to discuss his thoughts on the past two months before his retirement with the Star.

“It’s certainly been a stressful couple months,” Law said. “There were no good decisions in this economic climate, no easy decisions.”

A highlight amidst the storm of work and stress was attending his last graduations as superintendent.

“Graduation is such a unique experience and to be there and see the emotion and feel the emotion is always a high,” he said. “I did sit for a few minutes afterward and think, ‘I don’t get to do this again.’”

He also enjoyed reminiscing by walking through the high school halls filled with students for the last time as superintendent on Thursday.

“The high school was a really positive experience for me,” Law said. “I wanted to walk through it while there were still kids in there.”

Law acknowledges he has made some controversial decisions recently, specifically the closing of Eastside Elementary.

“You hate to go out knowing you made a whole lot of people mad,” he said. “The board carefully considered a lot of options, and there wasn’t anything we were going to pick that was going to make everyone happy.”

“We had to look at the entire district to make almost $2 million in cuts and try to preserve the education,” he continued. “Eastside really became the best choice.”

But Law hopes that his legacy won’t be focused solely on one decision but on his entire body of work.

“I hope that I’m remembered for the stuff we did at the high school,” he said. “I hope that I’m remembered as a person of integrity.”

Law is confident in his successor and feels the transition is going well.

“It was such a blessing to have the board hire Richard so early and for him to start in April,” he said. “We work really well together. That transition has been really great.
“He will hit the road running. He’s gaining a good understanding of the district and of the community,” Law said.

When he finally turns the keys of his office over to Weigel, Law plans to spend a lot of time with his family, especially his grandkids and his father.

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  • Anthony

    Doug Law retired ONCE already. He was “hired back” like several other administrators. He now will receive (public record, look it up) a pension of nearly $10,000 a MONTH.

    And why not? He was paid more per year than the superintendent of both South Bend and PHM. *Ask your school board WHY.

    Amazing that he can even show his face in public. Schools are closing, teachers laid off… but Mr. Law will receive $10k from the Michigan taxpayers.

  • ps alaska

    Doug Law was my 5th grade teacher back in 1974 -1975. I have known him since that time and can tell you that he is the “real deal.” I got the chance to work with him as a peer in later years as well. As an educator myself, I have seen no one better in the classroom. His national honors as a principal speak for themselves. His focus on children and their needs never lessened. He has repeatedly turned down raises offered by the Board which would have kept pace with his peers in the state and were richly deserved. He wanted the money to go to the staff for the children’s benefit. Make no mistake the job he is leaving is a very difficult one and he did it with competence and compassion. Well done Doug and thank you!

  • louisianab

    Its called a union, all of the teachers(typically) have one. Thats why poor teachers are still around year after year and they can retire (fully pensioned) after 30 years of service. Graduate at 22 years old, retire easily at 55.
    Don’t complain specifically about one person situation, address the whole issue. How much do we as taxpayers pay for the unions to get their cuts and negotiate primo contracts like that?

  • Anthony

    PRIMO CONTRACTS??? You obviously are misinformed.

    Most teachers in Niles haven’t had a raise in MANY years.

    The same year Law and the board CUT custodians pay and benefits, Law’s wages INCREASED by 8%.

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