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Jackson schools investigating interaction between board member and superintendent

Jackson High School
Posted at 6:07 PM, Feb 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-21 20:09:09-05

JACKSON, Mich. — Jackson Public Schools plans to hire an investigator to look into an interaction between Superintendent Jeff Beal and Trustee Kesha Hamilton.

It stems from a Jan. 18 meeting where board members discussed Beal’s goals and compensation.

Hamilton wanted Beal’s goals to be more measurable, including the school’s focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. The district had an equity audit conducted four years ago.

“This equity audit showed us all these areas that we need to improve and we haven’t done much with it except gotten more training, just more book reading,” Hamilton said during the Jan. 18 board meeting.

She had also spoken with a State Board of Education attorney to see if Beal’s annual raises were fiscally responsible.

“He did confirm that what I thought I was seeing was occurring. There was an additional raise being requested that was not listed in the contracts each year, which just speaks to a lack of oversight on the board’s part to recognize that these numbers were changing each year,” Hamilton said during the meeting.

Beal responded to her comment on his salary by saying he had provided Hamilton with the numbers that the board approved.

“The raise that I got was the raise that was approved by the Board of Education,” Beal said.

Hamilton voted against Beal receiving a contract extension and salary increase in December based on his evaluation rating going from “highly effective” to “effective.”

Trustee Erin White called out Hamilton during the meeting saying her actions towards Beal were uncalled for.

“I think there’s a very clear agenda that comes up board meeting after board meeting of a direct attack on Jeff’s career,” White said. “I think it’s fair game, if there’s anything whatsoever that we find with the superintendent that we call out, but I’ve been contacted by numerous community members from all different walks of life that see the very clear agenda right now and it’s incredibly frustrating and I would say that it’s a complete waste of time, mostly for the people that supported you and voted for you.”

Hamilton and district administrators declined to comment on what the interaction was, saying it is under investigation.

“We cannot comment on the investigation at this time," Jackson Public Schools spokesperson Kriss Giannetti said. "We will cooperate with the third-party investigation when assigned.”

The next Board of Education meeting will be on March 15 at 5:45 p.m. at the Jackson High School library.

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