Editorial

So it’s true board-supt. relations are not good

ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor.

Yes, the cat is out of the bag.

Though Wayland Union Schools Supt. Dr. Christina Hinds apparently is not leaving for Kalkaska after all, the real news is that she is looking for work elsewhere after less than a year on the job.

This proves what I and others have suspected for some time — the relationship between the Board of Education and superintendent is less than positive. It belies what board members publicly have tried to cover up with a phony “everything’s all right” approach during meetings.

This has been a difficult academic year indeed, but board members’ impatience with the hybrid and virtual instruction models has made things even worse. Sometimes, it’s felt like some board members have taken more seriously in-person classroom instruction and athletics than the health, safety and welfare of the kids.

Some people reacting to this news have brought up that ancient albatross known as bullying, which has plagued Wayland for more than a decade. I submit that Wayland schools don’t really have a bullying problem worse than other schools, but its nasty habit of denial is more than obvious.

I don’t believe board members have personally bullied Dr. Hinds, but I do believe most sincerely at least three board members have strong connections to athletics and the unfortunate and wrong-headed “Let ‘Em Play” movement last February. The ringleader of that group appeared before Rep. Steve Johnson and the House Oversight Committee for a Kangaroo Court hearing in which no testimony was heard from other side.

So Wayland and other districts then finally agreed to “Let ‘Em Play” and the students went back to the classrooms. Less than two months later, School Board members narrowly voted to go against recommendations of the Allegan County Health Department and return to in-house instruction, but by April 27 they were forced to go back to the hybrid.

I’m certain some will argue that Hopkins and Martin were able to go back to school without any health problems, but Wayland and other districts, such as Caledonia and Thornapple Kellogg, weren’t so fortunate.

I stumbled onto social media commentary by a board member’s spouse angered that his child wasn’t playing during the winter and I noted that the board president is a serious jock who clearly stated his preference for opening up the schools.

There are times I have come to the conclusion that we as a society place far too much importance on athletics.

It is athletics that has an uncomfortable relationship with bullying, and in Wayland I have personally experienced it and the reaction of school officials to my complaint was to circle the wagons.

Dr. Hinds’ predecessor very publicly professed his support for Donald Trump, the most famous bully on the planet. He and former Dorr Principal Kevin Zaschak were permitted to engage in extra-curricular activities similar to what cost Cheri Ritz her job as athletic director.

There have been times mothers have come to school board meetings and taken their children to other districts because of their perception that Wayland has a bullying problem. The real problem, which is so common these days, is that school officials are in denial.

“Denial is more than just a river in Egypt.”

9 Comments

  • Mr. Young
    Excellent article. One would think the school board would pick from within. Then the Superintendent would have the same ideology as the board.
    Going out and finding the most ” brilliant ” candidate, just ends with that person leaving. Constant conflict with the board helps no one.
    It would make sense to have the board and superintendent in agreement more times than not.
    If Wayland High School is to be a school that colleges vie over athletes so be it. Then get a superintendent who will work toward those goals.
    Pick from within.

  • As usual, you throw politics into a conversation when the previous superintendent only made it clear of his political preference after he retired, and you were exasperated when you found out, thinking he had to be a Democrat because he was in education at a high level. I guess he is a person with a brain and thinks for himself and that troubled you deeply. Whatever his politics should be of no consequence.
    As for Ms. Hinds, I hope she finds another district to work, evidently it isn’t working out well for her here. I guess where she came from (Mattawan?) didn’t please her either. If you think Wayland is tough, Kalkaska is a hard community. Her sensitivities would be run over roughshod by their citizens. They drive big trucks, hunt and fish, and have a drink or two or five. Gunfire close to town is heard during hunting season.
    Sports are important when put in perspective with education. Many other public and private schools do well in education and sports. And I’m sure bullying goes on on their schools as it does in business and life. When confronted with a bully, take care of it by attacking the bully. They are usually bluffing to see if you’ll fold, evidently many have. Get a spine.

    • You missed the point connecting athletics, bullying, Trump and Taylor. And I am offended by your attitude of treating me as though I’m a misbehaving child.

      • Oh contrare, I didn’t miss a thing, you are very transparent and still suffering from being bullied. You bring it up in any instance you can.

      • Dont worry Dave you can not make sense to a mommy apron hider. Lots of big talk and big words . DTOM Get a name get a SPINE

  • Dr Hinds deciding to interview for the Kalkaska Superintendent isn’t surprising. That after less than a year she saw moving from the administration in Mattawan Public Schools is indicative of the effects of second guessing she experienced from members of the Wayland Union School Board.

    Being a public school superintendent in MI is a tough job. It was tough when the state legislature would wait til the 11th hour to inform schools of state K-12 funding that required almost every district to issue pink slips to teachers just in case funding was cut. Tough when funding gets tied to test scores which results in curriculum being adjusted to “teach to the test”.

    COVID has brought in more second guessing from those who believe following Allegan County Public Health, MI Department of Public Health and CDC directives were (and are) broad general suggestions. I suspect that what was said to Dr. Hinds in her interviews with the school board regarding the board supporting decisions prior to their decision to hire her turned out to be far different once she was in the job. Remember Dr Hinds was hired after the COVID pandemic was acknowledged.

    It’s not coincidental that SW and West MI has seen more than 10 superintendents resign, retire or seek other superintendent jobs. It’s difficult to lead a district when the people responsible for hiring you change what they believe is important for the district’s success.

    People talk and word gets around in the relatively small group of people who might apply for Wayland Union Schools superintendent position when Dr. Hinds leaves. Wayland has some attractive selling points including annual check from the tribal casino complex that should ease annual budget decisions and a slow steady growth that gives ample time for staffing, facilities along with transportation decisions. However there are a lot of qualified people who will not bother to apply knowing they can’t trust school board leadership to allow them to do their job based on what was said when interviewed.

    • Couchman, as usual, you make excuses for the inexcusable.

      When you seek the top job in a school district, nothing is out of bounds and challenges will occur. If Dr. Hinds is so sensitive and affected by a few board members, did she ever think before she took the job there would be detractors among the board? Happens in every district – it’s called “human nature” – not everyone will agree with your ideas.
      I hope she accepts another offer, it would probably be good for her and the district.

      • DTOM
        Has it occurred to you that Dr. Hinds may not be overly sensitive? Could it be the micro management by the board?
        My guess is you never worked in a school system. There are school districts that have boards that mirco-manage everything. From important matters to the height of the grass on the property.
        These districts want ” puppets” not “free thinkers.”

        • Mr. Smit,
          I never wanted to work in a school system, they don’t pay enough. I worked where bullies were both male and female, and I learned to either co-exist or confront them. My long career in a company most would recognize was good and lucrative for me because I learned to persevere. I would always tell the new management “I was here before you and I’ll be here when you are promoted or fired, so tell me your expectations of me and I will give you my expectations of you”, it always broke the ice and we could move forward. If that is bullying, then I was a bully. I always had a good relationship with management and my co-workers because they knew they could rely on me and vice versa.
          That is called teamwork, which sounds like it is sorely lacking in our school district. It’s called straight talk and no bullshit. If that isn’t how school districts and government work, we are in for a world of hurt!

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