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Cedar Springs superintendent resigns after parents, teachers protest

People marching with signs
Bryce Huffman
Michigan Radio
Parents and teachers marching outside of Cedar Springs High School in opposition of current schools Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn

The Cedar Springs school board last night accepted the resignation of its superintendent, amid calls for her ouster by teachers and community members.

Some of  Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn's critics marched to the school board meeting holding signs that read “#ResignVanDuyn.”

VanDuyn had been accused of using rude or hurtful language when talking to staff and threatening people’s jobs for disagreeing with her.

The school board announced her resignation during the meeting last night. VanDuyn was not present at the meeting and couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

Amy Blauw, a middle school teacher in Cedar Springs, says staff morale is low under Dr. VanDuyn’s leadership.

“So many teachers don’t even want to come to school because they’re worried about the environment that they’re walking into every day. I’m also concerned about how that’s affecting students and their learning,” Blauw said.  

Teri Marsman, a parent of two Cedar Springs students, says she began hearing criticism of VanDuyn three years ago when staff spoke out about rude behavior during meetings.

“The voices have become louder, the movement has definitely become stronger because people are really seeing her reveal her true colors,” Marsman said.

Teachers say VanDuyn herself reviews any complaints made about her -- meaning she herself decides whether a complaint against her has merit.

Teachers and parents say 78 faculty members have left the school district since VanDuyn became superintendent in 2014.

Nearly 2,000 people signed on online petition demanding she step down, but not everyone in Cedar Springs is happy with her resignation. 

Tammy Metzger, a paraprofessional staff member in Cedar Springs for 15 years, thinks parents and teachers are still upset that they didn’t get the superintendent they wanted.

“When [VanDuyn] was first hired, it’s like some people just didn’t want to give her a chance, all because she was an outsider when she got hired,” Metzger said.

Back in 2014 when VanDuyn was hired, many faculty and staff wanted Associate Superintendent David Cairy to get hired. When he wasn’t, Metzger says people were very upset.

“But there are lots of changes [VanDuyn] has brought here. Good changes for the better of the students, but I guess change can be hard for people when it’s not what they expected,” she said.

It is unclear who will replace VanDuyn as superintendent when her resignation goes into effect this Friday. 

Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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