Brighton Educators Angered Over Conely's Remarks About 'Incompetent Teachers'
Brighton Area School Board Trustee John Conely made public remarks about incompetent educators being allowed to teach in the district.
Outraged over comments made by a Brighton School Board Trustee, teacher after teacher spoke during the public participation portion of the Brighton School Board meeting Monday night to a crowd of about 100 people.
John Conely made public comments earlier this month that were quoted in the Livingston Daily Press & Argus that "incompetent teachers are being allowed to teach and substandard service is being tolerated."
Conely's comments were made in regards to the projected $450,000 deficit at the end of this fiscal year on top of its $7.4 million legacy debt. He also called for a 15 percent reduction in pay for all wage earners in the district.
Brighton Education Association President Ellen Lafferty said that Conely's comments will have an unseen ripple effect on families looking to send their children to Brighton Area Schools who might now turn their attention elsewhere, on school of choice parents second guessing their decision and on future shared services contracts to enhance revenue.
"We have graduates working in business, education, medicine, technology, arts and entertainment all across state and nation," she said. "These students, sir, were not taught by incompetent teachers."
Other educators like Hornung Elementary Teacher Christine Darkowski and Brighton High School Teacher Kim Davis read letters they have received from thankful students and parents to show the board how district teachers excel in their roles.
In addition, a handful of Brighton High School students defended the capabilities of their teachers.
Conely said his opinions on the matter haven't changed.
"The comment regarding the teachers, I said there are a few teachers - a few - that we need to take responsibility and handle within this school system," he said. "Never did I say all the teachers in Brighton. I'm committed to this community as any soul can be. When I see a need for something because I was put into a position to make a difference by the people who live here, it's my job to do it."
In addition, Conely said he took issue with students speaking at the meeting, saying, children shouldn't be used to conduct the business of the school.
To form a group of very impressionable young people before they've heard both sides is not democracy," he said. "That's not what we're here for. My job is to look out for everyone. The AP kids are great, special needs kids are pretty well covered. But Brighton High School has 1,600 kids in the middle. So who's looking out for them. You heard from AP kids tonight. I didn't hear from any of the others. And I'm all about everyone."
Conely said he has been in contact with the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) to review the district's current financial issues and the MDE will be setting a future meeting with board members and administrators to discuss what the state expects from Brighton Area Schools.