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February 11, 2014

Students speak out against principal’s administrative leave

By Maria Allard
C & G Staff Writer

CENTER LINE — Center Line Public Schools officials are keeping quiet as to why Center Line High School Principal John Summerhill was recently placed on administrative leave.

At a school board meeting Feb. 10, a group of students and one parent addressed Superintendent Eve Kaltz and the school board about the issue, asking for an explanation as to why the high school administrator was put on administrative leave.

School officials, however, would not publically disclose the reasoning behind Summerhill’s paid administrative leave, stating personnel issues could not be brought up at the open meeting.

Nonetheless, a few CLHS students and graduates commented on the issue during the “citizens” portion toward the end of the meeting.

“Rumors are being spread about a man who cares about the students,” student Aaron Delikta said. “I think I am speaking for a lot of people in Center Line. He has done so much. He has always helped me (and) pushed me so hard.”

Delikta tearfully added he will graduate in four months, and he “won’t see one of the best people in my life” on stage to hand him his diploma.

“I am extremely disappointed in the lack of communication on the board and administration to kids and parents,” parent Paul Clark said. “It’s wrong (to) have a man’s reputation (dragged) through the mud.”

Clark said he hoped Summerhill’s administrative leave was “not based on personalities.”

“If we’ve got a problem with philosophy or direction, we can have a meeting of the minds,” Clark said. “We can work together. If you let people know what’s going on you would not have people in the dark about what happened.”

Summerhill was placed on leave via a letter from Kaltz. She met with students and staff members the day after he was placed on leave for “anyone that wanted to talk about it.” School officials said they will release information about the situation when they can.

“In light of the students coming forward clearly there’s a lot of sadness there,” Board Trustee Shannon Boccomino said. “We are not able to divulge certain things. There are certain things we need to keep confidential to protect this person.”

“I know it’s… difficult for you sitting at the high school and seeing this,” Board President Darrel Vickers said. “We don’t take these types of things lightly. It’s good to see the kids are practicing their right to stand up and speak.”

At press time, the length of the leave was undetermined. The school’s Assistant Principal Terry Piper has taken over the responsibilities of principal until further notice.

Attempts seeking comment from Summerhill were unsuccessful. He was appointed principal in June 2007. His leave began Jan. 17, 2014.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Maria Allard at allard@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1045.