Hamtramck Public Schools will be led by two administrators while its superintendent is on a temporary leave of absence.
Sherry Lynem, the district’s chief financial officer, and Nabil Nagi, the director of English Language Development, will share responsibilities as acting superintendents. They were named to replace Jaleelah Hassan Ahmed at a school board meeting Wednesday.
In a letter to the Hamtramck community posted on Facebook this week by Hamtramck Public Schools, Ahmed announced she was stepping away. She pointed to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as the reason she needs to focus on her physical and mental health right now.
At least 28 people have resigned since the start of the school year, including 12 teachers at Dickinson East Elementary who quit recently. That’s a significant loss to a system with only around 200 teachers and — like many districts — already dealing with a shortage of teachers. The district is also facing allegations it has retaliated against outspoken staff.
Hamtramck Federation of Teachers President Toni Coral says she wishes Ahmed well, but there is a lot of work to do in the district.
“I’m looking forward to working with [the acting superintendents] … on some of the initiatives that had stalled over the last couple of weeks … I hope those initiatives can begin to get us out of this crisis,” Coral says.
Coral, who is a teacher, says policies that made teachers feel unwelcome exacerbated the teacher shortage and crisis that the district is facing.
“They felt that some involuntary transfers that administration had implemented were retaliatory … people who had spoken up about some things suddenly found themselves moved,” Coral says.
Simon Albaugh covers Hamtramck for the Yemeni American News. He says divisions over the district’s return to school policies heightened problems that already existed.
“There was a lot of teachers who were kind of dissatisfied with Superintendent Jaleelah Ahmed’s leadership,” Albaugh says.