OVID, Mich. — After 22 years with the district, Ovid-Elsie Area Schools Superintendent Ryan Cunningham announced his retirement Monday morning effective Aug. 31.
In a letter to the school board Cunningham wrote, "Ovid-Elsie Area Schools has been my focus and passion for over two decades and my goal was simply to advance the districtand leave it in a better place than where I found it. I hope that when all of the dust settles, the district and community will reflect back on my years of service and also have fond memories."
Ovid-Elsie Area Schools Board of Education President Eric Jones wrote in a statement to FOX 47 News, "This decision by Dr. Cunningham to retire was a tough and personal one, and one that he and I have discussed for some time now. As Dr. Cunningham notified the entire staff just this morning, we as a board are in the beginning stages of finding his replacement and are working through the process. I, on behalf of the Ovid-Elsie School Board, wish Dr. Cunningham the very best in the future."
Cunningham was accused of inappropriately using Ovid-Elsie Area Schools fuel for his personal vehicles for several years, but he insisted when he became superintendent 12 years ago, he was told he was entitled to one tank of gas and one car wash per week.
Jones said that due to the "gravity of this allegation," the board contacted third-party Recon Management to investigate the situation.
The investigation found that, although this is not a legal practice, Cunningham did not knowingly violate any laws or policies.
Jones said Cunningham has paid back all necessary fees to the state of Michigan's Treasury Department.
The allegation against Cunningham came after the district's April decision to invest in a turf football caused community protest and divide—a turf war. Cunningham said there were enough physical threats made against him that he filed a police report.
Cunningham declined to do an interview about his retirement and hopes that the community can respect his decision and his family's privacy.
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