Improper tweets, relationship bring action from GPPSS officials

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published December 4, 2018

GROSSE WOODS/GROSSE POINTE FARMS — With Grosse Pointe Public School System officials recently dealing with two troubling personnel issues, administrators are considering what further steps to take during the hiring process to ensure the safety and well-being of students districtwide.

On Nov. 12, Grosse Pointe North High School Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Michelle Davis distributed to “The North Community” a letter welcoming a new varsity baseball coach who had been chosen after a lengthy process.

However, several days after the letter was distributed, administrators became aware of social media posts he allegedly made on Twitter in 2011 and 2012 that included profanity and offensive comments about race, religion and ethnic groups.

“A community member sent them to us. They were offensive and insensitive,” GPPSS Deputy Superintendent for Human Resources and Educational Services Jon Dean said. “They were not appropriate for students and would not be appropriate for our district.”

School officials notified Edustaff, the coach’s employer, that the district would no longer be needing his services effective Nov. 19. Dean said that during the hiring process, school officials review social media posts of potential employees.

“We check back to the previous year,” he said.

But since this incident, school officials will discuss what new practices could be put in place when it comes to researching social media posts of potential staff members during the hiring process. On Nov. 19, Davis and North Principal Kate Murray sent a letter to North parents about the tweets and how the new coach would not be joining the district after all.

“This decision was made because the Grosse Pointe Public School System values all of our stakeholders. All of our students deserve adults that support and embody compassion, diversity, and integrity,” the letter states. “As we move forward to identify the next baseball coach, we will continue to use parents, students and staff as part of the process. The position will be posted in the near future. We will keep families informed as the selection process continues.”

The Grosse Pointe Times tried to reach the coach multiple times via email for comment, but he did not respond.

In another matter, the Grosse Pointe Woods Public Safety Department recently investigated a case regarding a high school robotics team volunteer who reportedly had an improper relationship with a student four years ago.

Last month, the district received a complaint about a man  who volunteered as a mentor in the robotics program offered to North and Grosse Pointe South High School students. Officials received information that the volunteer and a 17-year-old student on the robotics team had a sexual relationship in 2014. Dean said that when district officials found out about the improper relationship, “We referred it to the police.”

According to Grosse Pointe Woods Detective Ryan Schroerlucke, the relationship was consensual and the mentor was 24 at the time. Michigan’s laws also prohibit teachers or people in authority from engaging in sex with students ages 16 or 17 years old. Because the former robotics student did not want to press charges, the case has been closed.

“She did not want to pursue charges,” Schroerlucke said. “Charges will not be filed.”

Schroerlucke said that the former student was asked to come back as a robotics mentor, and that’s when she shared information about the relationship.

“She didn’t feel comfortable coming back because of the previous relationship,” the detective said.

“Nobody else has come forward. It appears to be an isolated incident,” Schroerlucke said.

Per school officials, the volunteer is no longer to have any role related to the district or its programs.