Teacher airs displeasure with board
Quaak blames stress, lack of respect for resignation
Thursday, July 18, 2013 7:00 PM
MENOMINEE - Push finally came to shove and a long-time Menominee High School teacher told the school board Thursday night he's had enough and submitted his resignation effective immediately.
Math teacher Douglas Quaak used the Public Comment portion of the meeting to air his displeasure with the board on several issues but thanked the students and teachers he's worked with over the years.
Quaak, who also serves as the co-president of the teacher's union, the Menominee City District Education Association, cited two main reasons for his departure; the stress of working within the district and the lack of respect from the board to district employees, particularly the professional staff.
"I have always said that I would work for less money if I were shown more respect and now I am putting my money where my mouth is," he said.
The veteran teacher read a prepared statement in which he verbally blasted the board.
"If this were the board of directors of a company instead of a board of education, the stockholders would have thrown out the board and sacked the CEO for such financial ineptitude," he said. "I am surprised the voters of this district have not recalled the entire board for putting the district in the financial situation it is in."
The district has been struggling with a decline in local enrollment and state funding and its fund balance has drifted $200,000 into the red. Former Superintendent Erik Bergh resigned following a failed attempt to pass a $26 million millage in May of 2011, former Superintendent Randy Neelis was then brought in on an interim basis and now Michael Catanni holds the reigns. There have been other top level people leave the district recently, including high school principal Anders Hill who accepted a position as an elementary principal in Houghton, Mich. last month.
Quaak was also critical of the district's handling of negotiations with the teachers, saying the board has shown "complete disrespect and disregard for its professional staff."
"This is the second contract in a row that has gone over a year without a new master agreement," he said. "This is outrageous."
Quaak went on to pick apart a newly established evaluation program that he says is completely subjective and without due process. He denied board claims that the union agreed with the system. He said although the union took part in the development of the evaluation document it never agreed with or envisioned the district would use the raw scores to rank teachers for the purpose of layoffs and reductions.
"I once heard (School Board Member) Marye Mathieu make the statement in an open meeting, 'Teachers should be glad they have a job.' Marye, that is the wrong attitude," he said. "You should be glad the outstanding teachers of this district choose to work for you, a choice I am no longer willing to make."
Quaak said he will start his new job as a math instructor at Gillett High School this fall.