Parents address Mayville school board with concerns about principal

By Tom Gilchrist
For The Advertiser

MAYVILLE — Mayville Community Schools residents have asked the Board of Education to “reevaluate” its selection of Christopher Kidd as Mayville High School/Middle School principal, with one parent accusing Kidd of being a “bully” and another saying she has collected more than 200 signatures of those wanting the board to reconsider its choice.

“Parents and members of this community believe that this is not the best selection for us,” Tamera Blackwell told the board, saying she collected the signatures.

Kidd, 38, who served this school year as high school principal, athletic director and as a sports coach, is set to take over as high school/middle school principal when the new school year starts later this summer.

“Students, parents and school staff are actually afraid to say anything about (Kidd), in light of the fact of the retaliation that would occur,” Blackwell said. “Several people have complained about this person, going through the proper chain of command. They spoke with other administrative personnel about situations that have occurred. At this point, we feel it needs to go farther, because nothing seems to change and this is not getting better.”

Stacey Phillips predicts Mayville enrollment will drop if Kidd remains as principal, claiming students will leave for neighboring districts under Michigan’s “Schools of Choice” legislation.

“I’m afraid that if this particular principal continues here, the Schools of Choice is not going to work out well for Mayville,” Phillips told the board. “I think you guys are gonna lose a lot of students.”

Both Kidd and board member Dr. Richard Horsch pointed out that this school year, the Michigan Department of Education named Mayville High School as one of 344 “Reward” schools of the 4,247 public schools in Michigan. Mayville High made the list after the state declared it a “high-progress school,” one that has shown significant improvement on standardized test scores — and sustained such growth — for several years.

Blackwell didn’t turn over the signatures to school-board members, saying “They never asked for them.”

Tonya Frenzel alleged that after she voiced opinions at a Mayville Athletic Association meeting, Kidd retaliated against her by giving her daughter an in-school suspension.

“I don’t think that that’s a coincidence,” Frenzel said. “Never been in trouble, honor student, all-around great kid, but all of a sudden she’s getting in-school suspension.”

Frenzel ended her address to the board on Monday by saying “I could stand up here all day, but I’m just going to end by saying that (Kidd) is a bully. We have anti-bullying policy in our school. The kids have to follow it. He should lead by example.”

That statement drew applause from many of about 50 people in the audience at the board meeting.

When asked if he is a bully, Kidd said “I’m sorry (Frenzel) feels that way. I’ve always had an open-door policy for any parent who wants to come in and talk to me. There’s a certain chain of command that you’re supposed to follow. Some of the things she was talking about, like those comments you just mentioned, have never been brought to my attention.

“The chain of command that’s supposed to be followed is, obviously, you go to the person you have the problem with, and if I can’t solve the problem, then it would go to the superintendent, and then to the Board of Education. For her to jump up and make those kinds of comments, I gain nothing by doing any type of retalition (against Frenzel’s daughter).”

Horsch told The Advertiser that “discipline-wise, Mr. Kidd has done a wonderful job — we’ve heard problems about his public relations.”

Horsch, a member of the board’s Human Resources Committee, said the committee has listened to concerns about Kidd.

Speaking on behalf of the committee, Horsch told the audience that “There shall be no retaliation directed toward any person who in good faith and through proper channels, expresses a complaint, points out a problem or makes a suggestion which they believe to be meritorious.”

The committee on Monday recommended taking away Kidd’s duties as district athletic director, and the board appointed Mark Cooper to that job, effective July 1.

“Being relieved of the athletic directorship will afford (Kidd) the time that is necessary to fulfill his administrative duties,” Horsch said.

Horsch said members of the Human Resources Committee “have received diametrically opposing reports from individual teachers relating to the high-school principal’s willingness to work with and include them in the decision-making process.”

Horsch added that “It’s board policy that in order to have an effective school system, there must be an open and constructive dialogue between the board, our administration, teachers and other school employees. In order to be effective, the administrator should not only listen to teachers, but should reach out to them and create effective avenues of communication.”

The Human Resources Committee recommended that Superintendent Rhonda Blackburn “work with Kidd on improving communication skills when he’s working with the teachers, monitor his progress and report back to the board,” Horsch said.

The committee also recommended Blackburn work with Kidd on communicating with parents in the community, monitor his progress and report back to the board.

“You’re dealing with a man with an anger issue, people … and you know it,” Russ Coutcher told the board.  Coutcher said he “damn near got in a fight” with Kidd in the “Wildcat Den,” a locker room on school property. Coutcher said he and Kidd are coaches in the Mayville High football program.

When asked if he believes he has an “anger issue,” Kidd said “I don’t feel I do. I know that in my evaluation from the superintendent and the school board, that’s never been addressed.”

Kidd said he has spoken about his performance to Superintendent Blackburn, who evaluates him, and to the Board of Education.

“They’ve told me that they’re happy with my performance, and I think — if you actually look at my performance in the two years I’ve been here — there are a lot of positives there,” Kidd said.

Horsch told The Advertiser that “discipline-wise, Mr. Kidd has done a wonderful job — we’ve heard problems about his public relations.”

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