Summerfield steps down from Grosse Pointe school board

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published January 3, 2020



GROSSE POINTES — After nearly seven years on the Grosse Pointe Public School System Board of Education, Brian Summerfield has decided to step down from his elected position. 

On Jan. 2, Summerfield — who currently serves as president — submitted his letter of resignation to district Superintendent Gary Niehaus. Summerfield’s resignation will be presented to the Board of Education for acceptance at its next regular meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 13 in the Brownell Middle School multipurpose room, located at 260 Chalfonte Ave. in Grosse Pointe Farms.

Summerfield, who resides in Grosse Pointe Park with his wife and three children, posted a statement regarding his resignation via the Facebook page, “Brian C. Summerfield Grosse Pointe School Board Trustee.”

“As some of you have already heard, I have submitted my resignation from the board today. It was a very difficult decision, and I was reluctant to do so, but my family could no longer bear the burden of my continued service,” Summerfield stated. “Thank you for supporting and trusting me over the years with such an important role. Our administration and staff's professionalism, dedication, and expertise made my position much easier, and I appreciate having had the opportunity to work with so many talented people. I am confident my former board colleagues (and my replacement) will keep our district moving forward for the benefit our students. We should all be grateful to live in an area with such great educators.”

In a follow-up email, Summerfield further explained his reasons for stepping down.

“I would like to clarify that the cost to my family includes the considerable time I spent working on school board related activities instead of with my wife and kids,” Summerfield said. “I did not resign because of personal attacks or disagreements with me. Other than having to read disparaging remarks about me, none of my family has been directly targeted on social media. Unfortunately, my decisions have affected how some members of the community treat them.”

In the email, Summerfield said that serving on the school board “also had financial consequences, as I am an attorney paid by billable hours.”

Summerfield was appointed to the school board in April of 2013 and elected to his first term in November of 2014. He was reelected to his second term in November 2018.

Niehaus issued a statement Jan. 2 regarding Summerfield’s resignation. 

“The district thanks Mr. Summerfield for his years of dedicated service to the community,” Niehaus stated. 

Summerfield’s term was to expire Dec. 31, 2022, and the seat needs to be filled. Those interested in applying for the position can send a letter of interest by Jan. 14 to Dr. Gary Niehaus, superintendent, Grosse Pointe Public School System, 389 St. Clair St., Grosse Pointe, MI 48230.

According to the Michigan Association of School Boards guidelines and GPPSS Policy No. 0142.5, the school board has 30 days to fill the vacancy by appointment. The school board will follow its established protocol for advertising the appointment, conducting interviews and filling the position within the specified timeline. 

The vote requires a majority of the full school board to appoint someone. A person appointed to fill the vacancy would then hold office until the next regular school election in November of 2020.