I-Team: Bangor school leaders looking forward to new year after controversy
BANGOR, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Bangor’s Interim Superintendent Dave Peden is looking forward to Bangor’s future. But when the seasoned educator thinks about last year…
“I just can't imagine things happening faster and more negative then they did,” says Peden.
It was a rollercoaster school year full of plagiarism, state fines, uncertified administrators and several teacher resignations. During that time, the Newschannel3 I-Team requested several interviews with district officials who declined to comment. But now, Peden invited the I-Team inside to talk about the future.
“I think the perception is everybody has left Bangor. Our numbers,” says Peden, “they're going to be down but we knew they were going to be down."
Despite all the negatives, Peden say don't count the district out.
“Give us a chance,” says Peden. “Watch us."
All eyes are now watching the school board who must choose a new superintendent. The candidates are elementary school principal Karen Bitzer and chief operating officer Dennis Paquette.
Paquette is a beloved administrator and wrestling coach who was forced to step down after the I-Team caught him plagiarizing and lacking state mandated credentials.
“We need to have a much stronger majority going forward,” says Peden. “Then we got to support it.”
The community is split over who should run the district.
Concerned parent Billie Jean Munn is in favor of bringing back Paquette.
“We have a C.O.O. that has shown fortitude. He has shown mental toughness through all of this. He's still here,” says Munn. “He's been dealt the blows from WWMT, from Facebook and most of that was from the school board not following their own policies and procedures.”
But retired Bangor teacher Deborah Nutting says the district needs a fresh face and new leadership.
“Under the current administration, we've lost students, we've lost teachers, we lost funds,” says Nutting. “I think the only way to heal is to move forward and make a change to someone different."
“No matter what they decide, somebody is going to be upset,” says Peden. “That's life."
While nutting and Munn want different leaders, both agree the school board needs to make changes.
“The school board needs to take hold of their job which is to listen to both sides, investigate, get their information and then make an informed decision on the information, not on personal feelings,” says Nutting.
“We need everybody to come together and work towards the betterment for all of our children. It has to be the best for the masses. It can't be best for one or two. It's has to be what's good for everybody,” says Munn.
The Bangor School Board will meet on Monday, September 11th. We’re told a decision on the superintendent’s position will be made at that board meeting.