BANGOR — After a year dealing with controversy, Dennis Paquette has resigned from Bangor Public Schools to take a job as a physical education teacher for neighboring Covert Public Schools.
Bangor Board of Education members accepted Paquette’s resignation at a special meeting Sept. 20 as part of a separation agreement, according to Interim Superintendent Lynn Johnson.
According to the agreement, Paquette will be paid his accrued sick and vacation time by Nov. 1. He will then receive a lump sum payment of $24,000 in July 2018.
The separation agreement comes after several closed meetings in which school board members met with their attorney to determine how to best deal with Paquette’s position as chief operating officer. The position ended Aug. 31, effectively leaving him without a job.
“We went back and forth negotiating a separation agreement,” acting school board President Ruth Fuentes said.
Covert Public Schools has hired Paquette as physical education teacher, according to a WWMT-TV news report. However, Covert Superintendent Bobbi Morehead could not be reached to confirm that.
Paquette, who had been with Bangor Public Schools for 27 years as a teacher, coach and administrator, was named chief operating officer in January after stepping down as superintendent because he did not meet state certification requirements. As a result, the State Department of Education fined Bangor Public Schools $30,000 and an additional $12,000 for assistant high school principal and athletic director Mary Spade, who also did not meet administrative certification requirements.
According to Michigan Department of Education regulations, school administrators must enroll in a 21-credit educational leadership certification program within six months of being hired as administrators. Administrators must then obtain certification within three years.
Although Paquette and Spade enrolled in administrative certification programs – Paquette expected to finish his program by the end of September – they did not do so within six months of being named to their positions.
As a result, both Spade and Paquette, who was hired as superintendent in 2014, stepped down from their jobs. Paquette was named to the new position of COO, while Spade resumed her full-time job as athletic director.
Business Director Deb Pobuda then became interim superintendent, but retired at the end of July, leaving the district again without a chief.
If Paquette hoped to once again become superintendent, it didn’t happen. Board of Education members opted to consider him and South Walnut Elementary School Principal Karen Bitzer for the job in July following Pobuda’s retirement, but couldn’t reach an agreement to hire either one. Board members then decided in August to hire another interim superintendent, Dave Peden, a retired school chief from Mona Shores Public Schools, to lead the district.
Peden stayed with Bangor Public Schools until September when school board members voted to conduct a formal external search for a new school chief and hired Community Education Director Lynn Johnson as interim school chief.
“It could take up to six months,” school board Trustee Derek Babcock said at the board’s Sept. 11 meeting. “We’re going to do a thorough search. We plan to work with the Michigan Association of School Boards. We’re working with Jeff Mills (superintendent of the Van Buren Intermediate School District) and possibly other superintendents to assist with help when we need it.”