Waldron resigns from Niles school board

Published 9:06 am Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Michael Waldron has stepped down from his seat on the Niles Community Schools Board of Education. Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

Michael Waldron has stepped down from his seat on the Niles Community Schools Board of Education. Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

Niles Community Schools Board of Education member Michael Waldron resigned from his position Monday night, citing displeasure with how the board handled the resignation of former Supt. Richard Weigel and concerns about the future of the district.

Waldron, who joined the board July 2007, said the school board never sat down with Weigel to

discuss his side of the story after board members received a letter from 15 administrators accusing Weigel of bullying staff and creating a hostile workplace.

“I think the process was unfair,” said the 67-year-old Niles resident, whose term was set to expire in December 2016.

Waldron said he received the letter from administration by mail Feb. 10. The board met later that same day and, afterwards, Waldron said Weigel went on a leave of absence. Less than a month later, the board accepted Weigel’s letter of resignation by a vote of 5 to 1. Waldron cast the lone dissenting vote.

“I didn’t vote to accept his resignation because we, the board, never heard his side of the story,” he said. “I would rather have had things out in the open. I would’ve rather that the school board have a meeting with Richard and discuss the charges and get his side of it. That didn’t happen.”

Another reason Waldron said he resigned is because he is concerned about the future of the district.

“I think we’ve lost a great innovator and I don’t see anyone around that will continue those innovations in the next school year,” Waldron said. “I didn’t see anything I could do to help or to direct the school district to continue its record of innovation and improvement.”

Waldron was one of five members, with two absent, who voted to accept a contract that would make Michael Lindley the district’s interim superintendent through next school year.

Waldron said he is confident in Lindley’s ability to lead the district over the next 15 months.

“I think he is going to do a great job, but he’s an interim and I wouldn’t expect an interim to come up with any great innovations — that’s not what an interim should do,” he said. “For the time being, I don’t see much of anything except trying to continue with what we’ve accomplished so far.”

Lindley said Waldron might be underestimating the ability of the hardworking employees at Niles Community Schools.

“I have 20 years of experience as a superintendent, so I am going to work really hard in the 15 months I’m going to be here,” he said. “My job is to keep all the good things he (Weigel) put into place and try to make them better during the time I’m here.”

As for the timing of his resignation, Waldron said he wanted to wait until the district’s leadership was stable.

“I think that the immediate chaos and confusion is over,” he said.

The board has 30 days to find a replacement. Lindley said interested parties should file a letter of interest with the superintendent introducing themselves to the board. Letters should be submitted no later than May 5 and can be forwarded to the office of the superintendent at 111 Spruce St., Niles, MI 49120 or emailed to michael.lindley@nilesschools.org.