Updated Oct. 15, 2021
By Charles Sercombe
In an unexpected move, Hamtramck Public Schools Superintendent Jaleelah Ahmed has taken a leave of absence.
Her announcement was made public on the HPS Facebook page on Tuesday.
Ahmed has been on the job since 2019, and recently received a contract extension.
In her letter, Ahmed said that she is taking a break from her position to “prioritize and address my own physical, mental health and well-being.”
She did not say what specific ailment she has.
Ahmed, like so many other school superintendents, has had added responsibilities and burdens while overseeing the district during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Her leave of absence also comes at a time of turmoil in the district. Over 20 teachers, administrators and staff members have resigned since last June.
On the agenda for the school board’s regular monthly meeting Wednesday evening, an additional 11 more teachers and staff members announced their resignation – including the principal of Dickinson East Elementary School.
Also on the board’s agenda were the hirings of nine new teachers and staff employees, including one for the filling of the high school’s vacant principal position.
Teachers have spoken out at school board meetings to criticize Ahmed’s leadership.
Ahmed is allowed to remain on paid leave for up to 60 days.
Instead of appointing an interim superintendent, the board of education appointed Nabil Nagi, the district’s English Language Director, and Sherry Lynem, the district’s Chief Financial Officer, to share the duties of superintendent.
Here is Ahmed’s letter to the community that was posted on the district’s Facebook page announcing her leave:
“Throughout the pandemic, I have continually reinforced that the well-being of our school community is the district’s primary concern.
“We have seen the impact of the pandemic, not only on the physical well-being of our students, families, teachers, and staff, but also on the social and emotional health of our community. It is against that backdrop that I am writing to inform you that I will be taking a temporary leave of absence to address my own personal well-being.
“The decision, to temporarily step aside, was not entered into lightly. Nor is it easy to be openly vulnerable with you. I must prioritize and address my own physical, mental health and well-
“During my absence, the Board of Education will appoint an interim superintendent who will have the full support of the entire team at Hamtramck Public Schools.
“Having our students return to learning in our schools these past two months has been wonderful both for our students and our faculty and staff members. The energy and passion they bring every day continues to make a world of difference and will play a huge role in helping accelerate their learning as we continue to address the effects of COVID learning loss.
“While I know the news of my leave may come as a surprise, I also know that you will continue to serve as an invaluable partner in your child’s education. Your commitment to their success has been a driving force for me and the HPS faculty and staff throughout the challenges we have seen these past 18 months.
“The district will continue to address and support emotional well-being and mental health for those in our entire school community as that has been an element of critical focus. That focus is also the primary reason I was able to identify that I needed additional support at this time.
“It is my hope that I will return and come back revitalized, with a refreshed perspective to continue to lead our efforts and be the driving force behind the advancement and vision we have for the students and families of Hamtramck Public Schools.
“Thank you for your understanding and compassion, it is my honor and privilege to serve.”
Posted Oct. 15, 2021