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Dindoffer to Lead Grosse Pointe School Board

In the first meeting of the year, the Grosse Pointe Public School Board elected veteran member Joan Dindoffer to lead the group as president. Dan Roeske will serve as vice president.

Following a variety of statements from Grosse Pointe Public School Board members, they voted out Judy Gafa and voted in veteran board member Joan Dindoffer to lead the group as its president for 2013.

The decision against Gafa came in the board's historical voting style: 4-3 against electing her president again. Gafa then nominated Dindoffer to serve as president, which received support from six of the seven board members. Dan Roeske was the only dissenting vote.

Gafa, who has served on the board since 2008, and Dindoffer then promptly swapped seats and the officer selection continued. Board member Brendan Walsh nominated Gafa to serve as vice president but she declined the nomination and made another nomination for Roeske, who received a unanimous vote.

Leading up to the president nominations and votes, a few board members made pointed comments about Gafa's performance as president in 2012.

Leading up to Gafa being selected to serve as president, the board had been in heavy turmoil related to the superintendent search and the ultimate decision. Shortly after the decision to hire Tom Harwood, two new members were voted into the board by the community and a month later Gafa was voted in as president.

Similar to Monday night's 4-3 vote, the board had been frequently voting in this split manner related to nearly every agenda item. There has been some turmoil since among board members but it had been significantly quelled for some time. The turmoil resurfaced slightly during the residency and enrollment discussions that cropped up last summer and in the fall from residents.

Board member Cindy Pangborn said she felt some of the members were excluded from serving on committees by Gafa and the president should be inclusive. Pangborn and Jakubiec both mentioned emails they also felt were inappropriate.

Board member Brendan Walsh, who voted in favor of Gafa being president the first time but voted her out Monday, said he does not like the trend of the board making the officer election process about attacking other members. Negativity, Walsh said, does not benefit anyone and is not something the public would want. He then said he was "looking forward to moving forward" and he would be voting for Dindoffer.

Gafa briefly defended her year as president, saying she was proud of her behavior and work. "I moved this board forward as civilly as possible," Gafa said.

In closing comments of the meeting, Gafa congratulated the newly elected officers and said the change in leadership was not a surprise to her. She said she had a lengthy conversation Sunday with another board member detailing the "duties and failures" of her term as president.

The good news, she said, is she is still on the board and has four more years. After the meeting, she said to Patch she is disappointed but the 15,000 votes she received from the community speaks for their support of her leadership.

"I am not the important thing. The important thing is the district," she said.

The board also unanimously voted Lois Valente to be secretary and Walsh as treasurer, a position he's served in for several years.

Dindoffer, who has been on the school board since 1997, has previously served as its president. She has also served in the other officer positions of vice-president, secretary and treasurer.

According to the school district's biography of Dindoffer, she is an attorney who is a vice president in wealth management for Comerica Bank. She is a member of the Michigan Bar Association and holds a certificate of merit by the Michigan Association of School Boards for completing board training and certification.

Dindoffer lives in the Park and has three children who graduated from Grosse Pointe Public Schools.

Roeske has been on the school board since November 2011 when he was elected by the community. He lives in Grosse Pointe Farms and has three children currently in the district. He is a manager of training for an automotive finance company.

Kathy Abke January 29, 2013 at 01:26 PM
Nicely reported, Sara.
Diane Smith January 29, 2013 at 01:28 PM
Wait a minute, I thought it was about the kids?, Silly me!
George R. McMullen Jr. January 29, 2013 at 01:35 PM
Kathy I agree with your comment well done Sara a great report
Christopher Profeta January 29, 2013 at 03:39 PM
Well put. The children and families in this district are not served by political infighting. I think Mr. Walsh attempted to make that point last night following comments from Mr. Jakubiec and Mrs. Pangborn that had more to do with what was best for the board than what was best for the district.
Christopher Profeta January 30, 2013 at 12:21 AM
In all of the craziness that went on last night, let's not overlook the most astounding statement of the evening. Like many others in the room at the time, when Mr. Jakubiec suggested that GPPSS was incapable of providing families with a quality pre-k program, and suggested the district give up on its 3 and 4-year-olds and instead give them vouchers to "follow their hearts" to a private school, my head was spinning. Our elected leaders on the school board should be doing all they can to market our schools to the community, not encouraging them to go somewhere else. GM doesn't hand out Toyota coupons. If you aren't convinced of the importance of effective pre-k programs, please see my blog from a few weeks back: http://ppemichigan.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/expanding-pre-k-vital-to-grosse-pointe-public-schools/
Diane Smith January 30, 2013 at 01:17 AM
I thought Jakubiec's term expired at the end of 2013. Imagine my disappointment when I looked at the school board web pages and saw it ends 12/31/14.
George R. McMullen Jr. January 30, 2013 at 04:37 AM
Diane See below link State law mandates School board elections even numbered years..another example of the state taking away local control..only a couple of paragraphs....G http://www.michigan.gov/snyder/0,4668,7-277-57577-266375--,00.html

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