“You don’t get to be disciplined; you get to be voted out.” – Karen Christian, president, United Teachers of Flint, admonishing the errant behaviors of Flint school board members, Sept. 21, 2022
And so, it came to be in the Nov. 8 general election that four incumbents running for re-election to the Flint Board of Education (FBOE) were swept from their positions — “voted out,” by Flint voters. It was a clean sweep of four board incumbents that may be unprecedented in local electoral politics.
Longtime political analyst and East Village Magazine (EVM) columnist, Paul Rozycki, could not remember a similar sweep. “I don’t recall any other one (election) where all the incumbents lost.”
Incumbents losing their bid for reelection to the Flint panel included: Carol McIntosh, current FBOE president; Chris Del Morone, current FBOE vice president; Linda Boose, current FBOE secretary; and Allen Gilbert, trustee.
McIntosh was the longest-serving FBOE member. She began a six-year term in Jan. 2017. She returned to the president’s position when Danielle Green relinquished the position in Aug. 2022 following an alleged assault upon then-FBOE treasurer Laura MacIntyre.
Green subsequently left the school board in Sept. 2022 as a condition imposed by 67th District Court Judge Herman Marable in return for dismissal of assault charges.
McIntosh has served as board president throughout most of calendar years 2021 and 2022. It was a period marked by a pandemic, declining student enrollment, low standardized test score performances by students, unprecedented staff departures, board-administration tensions, multiple lawsuits, and strained relationships with one long-serving legal counsel and then another.
Public board meetings have been characterized by tensions between board members, sloppy parliamentary procedure, and meetings routinely lasting three to five hours. On Sept. 20, for example, during a meeting lasting 3:38, 87 points of information and 61 points of order were declared by FBOE members; that’s 148 parliamentary interjections during 218 minutes.
The dysfunction did not go unnoticed by employees, members of the public, and, apparently, voters.
Felicia Naimark, a speech pathologist at Flint Community Schools, excoriated the board at its Sept. 21 meeting: “I have never seen a board or meetings run as horribly as these are. The time that it takes to get nothing done is unbelievable … board members walking out, infighting, arguing between people, points of order, points of information improperly used.”
The FBOE has made little apparent progress on the demolition or sale of approximately two dozen abandoned properties of Flint Community Schools (FCS). None of the district’s eleven school buildings currently in use have been closed despite a student count – less than 3,000 – that would fit into about half that number.
Minimal progress has been made in the refurbishment of existing buildings that are among the oldest in the nation. The district has had access to nearly $150 million in COVID relief funds – more than the City of Flint – that can be used to upgrade existing structures.
COVID funds cannot be used to build new structures or upgrade buildings that do not contain students.
Additionally, an offer by Flint’s C. S. Mott Foundation to upgrade or rebuild all Flint school buildings at a cost of approximately $200 million has largely disappeared from public view, mostly due to the opposition of a few FBOE members.
A statement currently posted at the foundation’s website by CEO Ridgway White reads in part: “Unfortunately, there are some in the community who are promoting false narratives regarding how and why Mott has been involved in conversations about providing resources that could enable the district to make transformational change.” bit.ly/3B8SJXh
Electoral slate to comprise a new majority
Four members of a five-candidate slate – Melody Relerford, Dylan Luna, Terae King, and Michael Clack – will all take their seats by Jan. 2023. The only slate member not to win election was Emily Doerr. Four votes comprise a majority on the seven-member panel.
The only non-slate member to win election to the board was Claudia Perkins.
By virtue of being the top vote-getter among six candidates vying for a full six-year term, the Genesee Intermediate School District Board of Education will appoint Melody Relerford to fill the position vacated by Green on Nov. 28.
Relerford will fill the vacancy for about a month when she will begin her duties as a newly elected six-year member.
Thus, beginning in Jan 2023, the new lineup for the Flint board will look like this based on the Nov. 8 election results (vote totals and percentages in parentheses):
Six-year terms beginning in Jan. 2023, ending in Dec. 2028
- Melody Relerford (6,578; 12.98%)
- Claudia Perkins (6,350; 13.5%)
- Dylan Luna (6,212, 12.21%)
Incumbents losing their bid for reelection:
- Linda Boose (5,779, 12.28%)
- Carol McIntosh (4,168, 8.86%)
- Chris DelMorone (2,746, 5.84%)
Partial term ending Dec. 2026:
- Terae King (9,563, 53.29%)
Partial term ending Dec. 2024:
- Michael Clack (10,986, 59.52%)
Clack was the only candidate to receive at least 10,000 votes.
Incumbents returning to the board are Laura MacIntyre and Joyce Ellis-McNeal.
Their terms began in Jan. 2021 and end Dec. 2026.
Election of Officers
The election of board officers takes place each January at an organizational meeting. Following the voters’ blanket dismissal of all four FBOE incumbents seeking reelection, a new leadership team is predictable.
EVM Ed Beat reporter Harold Ford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.