Cardon resigns from Traverse City Area Public Schools, interim replacement selected

Oct 17, 2019

TCAPS Board Member Sue Kelly at a special meeting Thursday.
Credit Taylor Wizner / Interlochen Public Radio

Ann Cardon has resigned as superintendent of Traverse City Area Public Schools. 

After 45 minutes of public comment at a special meeting of the TCAPS Board, Board President Sue Kelly announced Cardon’s resignation.

"In the life of organizations when, for numerous reasons, things simply do not work out even though all parties entered into the partnership in good faith and with good intentions. That's the case today as the board has received a letter of resignation from Ms. Cardon," Sue Kelly said. 

Board Secretary Stacey Hozak read Cardon's resignation letter, in which she said she and the board had differences that could not be resolved. Cardon asked the public to respect her decision. 

"It is with dissapointment that I tender my resignation and all employment duties with TCAPS effective immediately. Unfortunately things are not working out well and I believe that is in the best interests for all concerned that I resign. I wish nothing but the best for the district. I appreciate all of the support that I have recieved and I ask the community to please respect this decision, it was not a decision that I arrived lightly, but it is the right decision for all concerned."

The board then appointed former TCAPS Superintendent James Pavelka to serve as the interim replacement, which was met with applause from several audience members.

But Erica Moon Mohr, a board member that has been vocally supportive of Cardon, interjected to say she wasn't consulted on Pavelka's appointment.

"How come I wasn't included in any of the conversations as to reccomendations?" Mohr asked. Kelly responded saying Pavelka's name was only brought up shortly before the meeting started.

The board then unanimously approved Pavelka's appointment. In a short huddle with reporters after the meeting, Sue Kelly read the following statement:

"As reflected by the board resolution today, as well as the letter from Ann Cardon, we've determined it is in the best interest of the district to part ways with Ms. Cardon. This action was made necessary as a result of public disclosure of confidential communications in a closed session of the board, that hereafter made it impossible for Ms. Cardon to be effective in her position as superintendent. We understand this abrupt decision is unsettling and concerning to everyone in the district and it has not been taken lightly, but only after careful review and deliberation. We've taken this action because we firmly believe that it was necessary for all of us, for the board, the staff, the administration, the students and the families, to move forward in the best interest of the district and continue to provide the best educational opportunities possible. I'd like to share with the community that it is with a lot of excitement and a lot of pleasure that we look forward to former superintendent Jim Pavelka coming out of retirement. I met with Mr. Pavelka this afternoon and he is excited to be, again, a part of TCAPS and to move forward with us."

Kelly said she couldn't provide details on the exact reason behind Cardon's departure, including any severance pay, saying it's confidential and handled in closed meetings of the board. Cardon and board members have allegedly been at odds for weeks over several issues, including school funding.

"As a board member we are privy to a lot of confidential information, and it is of utmost importance that we abide by that oath of office," Kelly said. 

Kelly denied allegations that Cardon was pushed out, and couldn't provide a timeline or details on finding a long-term replacement for Cardon.

The special meeting of the board was largely comprised of public comment, where most speakers criticized the board.

"We elected you guys as individuals on the board and trusted you guys with making good choices for the community, and clearly you guys are terrible at that. I want you guys to resign," resident Paul Baldwin said.

Pavelka will take over as TCAPS Superintendent effective immediately. Kelly said he will be at the TCAPS Administrative Building to meet stakeholders in the community Friday at 11 a.m.

IPR will update this story as it develops.