Cassopolis Schools seeking replacement for coordinator

Published 9:27 am Thursday, August 9, 2018

CASSOPOLIS — After a vote by the Cassopolis Board of Education on Monday night, it became official that neither of the district’s former principals will be back next year.

This decision came at a special school board meeting on Monday night when the board rescinded an approved offer to David VanLue for the position of coordinator of special programs.

VanLue was the former principal at Ross Beatty Jr.-Sr. High School. His contract as principal was voted to be nonrenewed by the board at a meeting on May 29. At that same meeting, the board approved for him to be offered the position of coordinator of special programs.

Scott Ward, school board present, said that the motion was voted on at a special meeting, as opposed to the regularly scheduled meeting at 6:30 p.m. this upcoming Monday, because the school year is less than a month away, and the district needed to be able to fill the position of coordinator of special programs as soon as possible.

“It’s a very tight schedule,” Ward said. “We need to move forward for the next school year and get going. Angela [Piazza, the district’s superintendent] has a lot of work to do with her staff, so we need to make sure we have everyone in place.”

DeeAnn Melville-Voss, the former principal at Sam Adams Elementary School, also had her contract approved for nonrenewal by the board on May 29 and was then offered a new position, as the K-12 literacy coordinator. But she left the district when she took a job last month as the principal at Mars Elementary School in Berrien Springs.

“These are just personnel changes,” Ward said. “It happens all the time in school districts statewide and nationwide. It’s [based on] the direction we’re going in.”

The motion to rescind the offer for the position of special programs passed with five to one vote. Jesse Binns was the only present board member to vote no. Board Member Amanda Smego missed the meeting.

It is unlikely that Piazza will be able to find someone to fill the position by Monday, so Ward said that it will likely take another special school board meeting to vote on whoever is picked as the new coordinator of special programs.

The district is unsure if it will fill the position of K-12 literacy coordinator.

“We’re still restructuring and rethinking that and seeing how we’re going to roll forward with our staff and administrators that are in place,” Piazza said.

Unlike at previous school board meetings involving the futures of the two former principals, there were no public comments after the board decision. This could be because there was no discussion at the meeting on why the offer was being rescinded.

“I was prepared to make a public comment, but since I don’t really know what’s going on I don’t want to make public comments that are nonsensical — without facts,” said Carol Bealor, a lawyer in Cass County who attended the meeting. “The fact that there are no facts [given to the public] may be because it’s a disciplinary [issue or had to do with] other employment matters that they can’t give information on.”

During the special school board meeting, Brooke Brawley was given a new position as well. She is now the district’s curriculum coordinator, replacing Karen Blaha.

“She has been working side by side with Karen Blaha all year long and does our grants, so it fits very well with grants and curriculum because those two work side by side,” Piazza said. “She is instrumental in helping us design our district improvement plan and our school improvement plan, so she’s been kind of in the role… so it was just an easy move.”

Brawley was unanimously approved by the school board to fill the position. Taking her place as Sam Adams Elementary School assistant principal will be Lauren Sheely.

“We’re just looking forward to moving forward,” Piazza said. “We have some great, quality candidates in place and we’re looking forward to the changes this year. Everything is headed in a positive direction and we’re excited about that.”