Tom Harwood offered clarification Tuesday regarding , the band director from and .
Harwood said in an email Tuesday a resolution previously released by the district to Grosse Pointe Patch was not used in the termination of Cross. Instead, the board rejected the "proposed" resolution during their open meeting at 7 a.m. June 15 and the board voted upon a motion by a board member, Harwood said in the email.
The document had been released as part of a Freedom of Information Request to the district regarding Cross' termination. . Such information requests are given to school district officials not to the board members as the district employees handle the administrative duties of the board.
Cross was terminated by the board at the unanimous recommendation of both the South and Pierce principals, Harwood and Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Jon Dean.
"The proposed resolution was removed from the table and Mr. (Brendan) Walsh made a motion, that was seconded by Ms. (Joan) Dindoffer, 'that the Board approves to discontinue and terminate the employment of Mr. Steven Cross in accordance with the rights afforded in the Michigan Teacher Tenure Act.' This motion was approved by a 6-1 vote of the Board," Harwood said in an email Tuesday.
The resolution was released to Patch July 3 by the district's FOIA coordinator, Chris Fenton, whose response was copied to Harwood and Dean.
Meanwhile, Harwood sent out a press release Monday providing details about how the proper process was followed in the termination of Cross. According to the press release:
The notice meeting was posted in the administrative offices on St. Clair Street at 9 a.m. June 14--22 hours before the meeting. The Open Meetings Act requires a minimum of 18 hours notice.
The letter sent to parents by Cross--which is what spurred the administrators recommendation to the school board--"contained inaccurate statements, advocated for changes to his personal schedule, indicated he would no longer perform some of his duties and related activities in the future and encouraged parents to contact administration."
The release goes on to state:
"This letter was viewed by Dr. Outlaw, Mr. Gary Buslepp, Pierce Principal, Dr. Dean and Dr. Harwood as unprofessional, inappropriate and unnecessary. After consulting with legal counsel and reviewing applicable laws, it was determined that Mr. Cross was effectively an at-will employee (probationary) for only a short remaining period of time-- until June 30, 2012, when he would obtain tenure status if not dismissed on or before that date. This short time constraint was specifically provided by the Teacher Tenure Act. After reviewing the situation and again consulting legal counsel, administration determined that it was not in the best interests of GPPSS to employ Mr. Cross beyond the 2011-12 school year."
The release also states that Cross was given notice of the meeting and offered an opportunity to comment, which he declined. Former Grosse Pointe Education Association Renae Beyerlein, whose term ended June 30, previously told Patch Cross was informed there would be a meeting but not told the time or place.
Grosse Pointe School Board President Judy Gafa said Tuesday she and the board are trying to determine what happened with the release of the wrong document concerning Cross' termination. She said the need for the meeting, for which she says the notice was posted properly, happened very quickly.
The questions about the openness of the meeting arose because the district did not post the board meeting on its calendar on the district website as it usually does. While Michigan Open Meetings Act does not require online posting, the district's standard policy is to post both open and closed meetings on its online board calendar.
Additionally, Patch was denied access to the minutes from the meeting, despite the Michigan Open Meetings Act requiring the proposed minutes to be available for inspection within eight days following the meeting. The FOIA request was filed June 25--ten days after the meeting.
Gafa said she takes the Open Meetings Act seriously. She understands how the time of the meeting may appear strange to some but said it was necessary to accommodate the schedules of the board members, all of whom have commitments outside of being a board member.
Harwood's release further states that the district will be reviewing applications submitted for the music position for both South and Pierce. The quality of candidates was pleasing to the district and as the process continues, the district wants to include parents and students in the process.