Education Beat: Tumult Continues on Flint Board of Directors as Chairman, Treasurer Cast

By Harold C. Ford

“Here we go again.” – Joyce Ellis-McNeal after being removed from her role as chairman of the Flint Board of Education, August 17

The tumultuous nature of the Flint Board of Education (FBOE) was, once again, on full display during the 3.5-hour panel meeting on August 17, as Joyce Ellis-McNeal, president, and Laura MacIntyre, treasurer, were suddenly removed from their posts. .

The votes to unseat McNeal and MacIntyre were: Carol McIntosh, vice-president; Chris Del Morone, Assistant Secretary/Treasurer; Allen Gilbert, administrator; and Danielle Green, trustee.

Flint School Board member Joyce Ellis-McNeal. (Photo by Tom Travis)

Linda Boose joined Ellis-McNeal and MacIntyre in opposing both motions to dismiss.

The motion to remove Ellis-McNeal was made by Gilbert; MacIntyre’s motion to delete was moved by McIntosh. Seconded motions were moved by McIntosh and Green, respectively.

FBOE School Board Member Laura MacIntyre. (Photo source: New York Post | Article published on March 24, 2022)

Green was attending his first meeting after a five-month hiatus. During the discussion, Green told Ellis-McNeal that she (Ellis-McNeal) was “not intellectually, morally or ethically qualified” to serve as chair of the board. “I’m not the only one who thinks so.”

“We’re just acting in a way that’s unprofessional,” Ellis-McNeal replied. She called both evictions “retaliatory.”

McIntosh ascended to the presidency after Ellis-McNeal stepped down. The chairman’s gavel was immediately passed from Ellis-McNeal to McIntosh who chaired the short remainder of the meeting.

Del Morone was chosen to serve as vice president, vacated by McIntosh’s rise to the presidency, with votes from Gilbert, Green, McIntosh, Del Morone, and Boose.

Allen Gilbert, member of the FBOE. (Photo by Tom Travis)

Green received votes from Gilbert, McIntosh, Del Morone and Green to become treasurer, replacing MacIntyre.

“Here we go again,” McNeal said in response to the FBOE’s sudden change in leadership. In the past 21 months, since December 2020, the gavel of Flint’s chairmanship has been passed four times from McIntosh, to Green, to Ellis-McNeal and McIntosh once again.

Tough tenures of Ellis-McNeal and MacIntyre

Ellis-McNeal had been elevated to No. 1 on the FBOE when Green was ousted following Green’s alleged assault on MacIntyre in March. Ellis-McNeal’s perceived clumsy leadership style – frequently requiring redirection by other board members and central administration staff present at public meetings. – featured rambling soliloquies that seemed to go astray. Under Ellis-McNeal, FBOE meetings regularly lasted three to five hours and longer.

Danielle Green, member of the FBOE. (Photo source: FCS website)

[Readers, listeners, viewers can witness for themselves the parliamentary untidiness of FBOE meetings for the past five months by watching videos of those meetings made available on YouTube. Print accounts have also been provided in recent print issues and online posts of East Village Magazine (EVM).]

MacIntyre’s 20-month tenure on the Flint panel was marred by multiple incidents of conflict with other members of the administrative and elected leadership teams:

  • FBOE veterans Vera Perry and Diana Wright – who had collectively served on the board for more than 24 years – suddenly resigned from the FBOE on September 7, 2021. Neither offered an explanation complete for their sudden resignation. Wright had been repeatedly rebuffed in her attempts to put on the board’s agenda the C. S. Mott Foundation’s proposal to rebuild or renovate all school buildings in Flint; the most vocal and strident opposition came from MacIntyre. In a statement to EMV, Perry only said his services were “no longer in use.” Both Wright and Perry had had very public spats with MacIntyre during the latter’s first six months on the panel. During a heated exchange, Perry threw the epithet “heifer” at MacIntyre.

Perry, Wright, Ellis-McNeal, Steward, Dompreh, Green and McIntosh are all African American women. This may help explain why veiled and explicit accusations of racism are increasingly being leveled at MacIntyre by members of the public and other board members.

“Four Voices”

“As you can see, you have your four votes,” Ellis-McNeal concluded in response to a new apparent majority bloc of four votes on the seven-person panel. Relative newcomers Del Morone and Gilbert joined the oldest of the council members, Green and McIntosh, in removing Ellis-McNeal and MacIntyre from their posts and taking other measures.

Green had returned to her first meeting after a five-month absence following her confrontation with MacIntyre that led to her removal as president. A successful PPO request by MacIntyre was believed to be the reason for Green’s absence.

After the August 17 meeting, Green said EVM that Herman Marable, 67 years olde The district court judge had sent a note to Ellis-McNeal explaining that he had no intention of barring Green from his duties as a public servant. Green claimed that McNeal did not disclose Marable’s note. Earlier in the meeting, Green referred to “documents the president tried to hide from us.”

May 2022 FBOE meeting. (Photo by Tom Travis)

McIntosh reappeared at the July FBOE meeting after a voluntary hiatus of several months. During heated exchanges with MacIntyre, McIntosh said, “I didn’t come to the meetings because I don’t want to be installed like Mrs. Green was!”

In yet another show of force, the new four-vote majority approved, by another 4-3 margin, payment of Green’s legal fees stemming from the March assault incident. The board had voted to pay MacIntyre’s fees at a previous meeting.

The emerging four-vote bloc actually coalesced earlier at the August 17 meeting in a tumultuous and protracted debate over whether or not to immediately pay the fees of District Attorney Charis Lee.

“I could have already taken that to court.”

After a cacophonous end to the Flint District’s long relationship with The Williams Firm in the fall of 2021, a promising new relationship with law firm Charis Lee has also turned tumultuous. Lee had been recommended to the board by Ellis-McNeal. But Ellis-McNeal had led a months-long effort to block Lee’s payment for his firm’s legal services for failing to follow proper procedures.

Charis Lee, attorney for the FBOE. (Image source: Linkedin)

MacIntyre joined Ellis-McNeal in vehemently opposing Lee’s payment:

  • Ellis-McNeal: “The (district auditing firm) advised … that we withhold payment until we hear from them. … This board has an obligation to the auditor. … We did not allow [to] let her (Lee)…. invoice, and invoice, and invoice without documentation. … Excessive bills kept coming, $7,000, $8,000, $9,000. …I requested that the attorney meet with myself and the superintendent.
  • MacIntyre: “This case is getting very sloppy and unprofessional. … This seller (Lee) refused to follow the procedure. … You cannot vote to pay carte blanche to a vendor; that is not how fiscal responsibility works. We voted to pay the initial bills that have been paid; at this point, there are many others that are very problematic. … Procedures must be followed.

McIntosh, Gilbert, Green and Del Morone argued vigorously for prompt payment for Lee’s services:

  • McIntosh: “This is sabotage…If this board voted to pay her (Lee), no outside auditor trumps this board. ,,, We have his bill (from Lee) and it is not excessive. … This is libelous (referring to comments about Lee by Ellis-McNeal and MacIntyre). …”
  • Gilbert: “The previous council, before I got here, approved this lawyer (Lee) as council counsel. … If this lawyer was under contract with this council and this district, we are responsible for it. … I don’t think that lawyer was treated fairly.

“I think she has a right to come before us and defend herself,” Gilbert said after making a motion for Lee, who was in the audience, to come forward and speak to the council. “I see no problem with that,” Del Morone said in support. “It is better to deal with it internally than at the courthouse.

In a rare moment of unanimity, the board voted 7-0 for Lee to run. Lee gave a spirited defense of his work for the district.

“I decided not to do politics,” Lee said. “You’re withholding money from me, I really don’t appreciate that, especially when you know I don’t overcharge this neighborhood; I’m undercharging you. And I made sure to only charge you what I could prove. … Everything I billed, I worked for.

“I live in this community,” Lee said passionately. “I have no desire to rob you. … The allegations, because I will not play these games, are appalling. … My name, my business has been slandered and I don’t appreciate it. … I am always willing to ask and beg you to work with me and tell me about these allegations, because the allegations do not mean that they are true.

Lee said his company has not been paid for its work for the district since February. “I could have already taken this to court,” she said. “I never had a problem getting paid until President McNeal became president. … You have not cooperated with me as (the) council prosecutor since April.

“I’m not interested in meeting you (McNeal) and the superintendent,” Lee said, “because I’m not interested in settling down.”

The discussion lasted 79 minutes and became so resentful that the security guard assigned to FBOE meetings, once again, walked out of the hallway and sat down near the board members.

MacIntyre accused other FBOE members of a “demagogic (and) performative circus”. Green accused Ellis-McNeal of “lying like you do about everything else.”

In the end, the emerging four-vote bloc on the Flint board – McIntosh, Green, Gilbert and Del Morone – joined by Boose, voted to pay Lee for services rendered. Then they immediately removed McNeal and MacIntyre as board members.

* * * * *

The remaining meetings of the Flint Board of Education in 2022 are scheduled for: September 14 and 21; October 12 and 19; November 9 and 16; December 14 and 21. They can be viewed remotely or in person. Meetings are held at the ALA Building, 1602 S. Averill Ave., Flint, MI 48503. Further details are available on the district’s website. (www.flintschools.org)

EVM Education Beat reporter Harold Ford can be reached at [email protected]

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