Former Clare Superintendent questions Pummell resignation

August 27, 2015

Doniel Pummell

Doniel Pummell

By Pat Maurer

In an email earlier this week, former Clare Superintendent Greg McMillan questioned why Clare Superintendent Doniel Pummell resigned recently.

Pummell’s resignation, citing the board’s desire to “go another direction with superintendent leadership.” She wrote, “I have respectfully resigned my position.” In her letter Pummell said her “last day as Clare Superintendent is August 31.”

At the August 18 Clare Board of Education meeting, her resignation was unanimously accepted, and former interim Pioneer Principal, and retired Meridian Superintendent Doug Fillmore was hired to serve in the position for the coming school year or until the board hires a replacement for Pummell.

When questioned about what led to Pummell leaving the position after the meeting, Board President Tom Weaver said he could only say, “It was a mutual agreement between Ms. Pummell and the Board.”

In his email to the editor of the Review, McMillan asked, “What has happened to investigative reporting?  As a community member and tax payer I would like to know why the superintendent of schools in Clare resigned.”

He continued, “Why wasn’t she non-renewed during this past spring’s annual superintendent’s evaluation?  What was the outcome of that professional evaluation by our school board?  If they failed to non-renew her this past spring, she would still have a year or two on her contract.  The board typically provides their superintendent with a three year contract.  I know because I held that position.  If the board did not non-renew her in the spring, which is quite obvious, how much did they expend of the school district’s fund to pay off her contract?  If in fact that school district and board are transparent, we should have been provided that information as well.”

McMillan also wrote, “Why is our board president so happy to have forced a superintendent out and employing a ‘rent a superintendent?’  How much of the school district’s budget will be expended on his salary?  We should know this information.  Please do some investigative reporting and identify the answers to these questions.  The community, tax payers deserve the truth, the facts.  That occurred when the Clare Sentinel was in operation.  I know; I was once a superintendent here.”

When McMillan’s questions were asked of Weaver, he responded, “You have always been fair and honest with your reporting. I would strongly disagree with Mr. McMillian’s statement that you don’t do any investigative reporting. In this email I will attempt to answer the questions that I can.”

He continued, “Doni’s evaluation wasn’t done this spring because we, (the board and superintendent) decided to move her evaluation to November. The reason for doing this was that, with elections moving to November, any newly elected board members wouldn’t have time to properly do an evaluation after only being on the board for such a short period of time. We felt if we moved the evaluation to November, any new board members would have almost a full year on the board before going through their first evaluation of the superintendent.”

Concerning Pummell’s contract, Weaver said, “Doni didn’t have a three year contract. We gave her three years on her initial hiring to give her some level of security because she was uprooting her family and moving to Clare. After that, her contract was for two years at a time.”

“We did reach a settlement agreement with Doni,” he added. “This board takes great pride in being transparent. We are not trying to hide anything concerning this change in leadership. According to the agreement between Doni and the district, the agreement must be FOIA’ed through the Central Office. We must give Doni three days written notice before we can release any details. Any deviations from this would result in our violating the terms of the agreement.”

Weaver said, “We, as a board, were not “happy” about having to change superintendents at this time. What we were happy about, was being able to find a person like Doug Fillmore to take over our district for the current school year. He is a man of integrity that I am convinced will move our district forward in a positive manner. As a former superintendent, he has worked with much larger bond issues than the one we are currently embarking on. Having worked with us previously, he is also very familiar with our district. He is the perfect choice to step in at this time to guide us through this process.”

He concluded, “This board has proven over and over again that we are very frugal with the taxpayers’ money. With the help of our great staff of administrators, teachers, support staff, custodians, maintenance workers, bus drivers, booster groups, and community members we have kept Clare at the forefront of education.”


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