Cedar Springs superintendent resigns under pressure from community

Posted at 9:40 PM, Mar 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-26 22:28:06-04

CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. -- The superintendent of Cedar Springs Public Schools has resigned following allegations of bullying, intimidation and poor policy choices.

The Cedar Springs School Board accepted Superintendent Laura VanDuyn's resignation during a meeting on Monday evening following a closed door session. VanDuyn was excused from the meeting. Her resignation will be effective Friday afternoon.

The group of protesters wore matching shirts that read, '#ResignVanDuyn,' gathered before the meeting.

Following the announcement, School Board President Heidi Reed expressed her disappointment in the resignation, adding she's disappointed with how protesters have behaved.

For three years, the community has been divided over what people think of their superintendent.

“We used to be what they said what was ‘The best kept secret in Kent County', says Amy Blauw, a teacher with Cedar Springs Public Schools who marched in protest of VanDuyn before the meeting.

“I’ve seen a lot of tears from the staff at all levels," Blauw says. "I’ve seen a lot students that have been uneasy. There’s not collaboration like there used to be.”

Others who support VanDuyn held signs at the meeting that read the opposite: "B Kind 2 VanDuyn."

“I think this is disgusting," retired teacher Karen Gebhardt tells FOX 17. "I think it is an assault, a harassment. These are people who were not happy with her being hired right from the beginning. I think being a small town and everybody knows everybody, I think people are siding on the side of their friends and the people they’re comfortable with and they’ve known forever, so they’re only hearing their friend’s side of the story.”

Gebhardt says VanDuyn was the fresh start the district needed.

"There were some things happening that we needed a lot of changes and people were not real happy with a lot of the changes that were made," Gebhardt says. "There were people in positions that were not qualified to be in those positions and the people running all of this are their friends and relatives.”

The announcement of VanDuyn's resignation was met with loud cheers.

“I think that could bring healing and I think that’s a step in the right direction," Blauw says.

During the closed session portion of the meeting, members of the #ResignVanDuyn group passed around petitions to also recall two board members. They plan to recall a third member pending approval from a judge.

FOX 17 reached out to VanDuyn to interview but she has not been available.