By Charles Sercombe
An email apparently circulated among Hamtramck Public Schools employees ordered them to not contact Superintendent Jaleelah Ahmed, who is now on a leave of absence.
Ahmed announced her leave of absence last week on the district’s Facebook page. She said the stresses of the pandemic has caused her to “prioritize and address my own physical, mental health and well-being.”
Ahmed’s leave took many in the district by surprise. She told the school board that she will be on leave until Jan. 10.
The board met last Wednesday and accepted her request for a leave. Nabil Nagi, the district’s English Language Director, and Sherry Lynem, the district’s Chief Financial Officer, were appointed to share the duties of superintendent.
The Review obtained a copy of the district email directing employees not to contact Ahmed.
“District employees shall not communicate with Superintendent Ahmed concerning any district business, district matter, district student or district subject of any kind until further notice. Employees shall not discuss the employment circumstances of Superintendent Ahmed with anyone unless cleared by Lynem or Nagi.
“These steps are necessary to protect the privacy of all concerned, the confidentiality of district information and records, and to ensure that district operations function in an orderly fashion.”
Ahmed has been superintendent since 2019. In the last several months, there have been mass resignations by veteran teachers and staff members.
At last week’s board meeting, several teachers spoke out about what it has been like with Ahmed as superintendent
One teacher said that, since Ahmed became superintendent, the district has been “going backwards from our best years.”
Toni Coral, the president of the teachers’ union, characterized the working conditions in the district as “chaotic” – a description that was repeated over and over.
Another teacher said that there was “no confidence in the leadership,” and that the district was not prepared to start up the new school year with in-classroom teaching.
“This is not an environment I want to return in,” said the teacher.
Sarah Filipiak, who announced her resignation last week as principal of Dickinson East Elementary School, said that, under Ahmed’s leadership, “the message is loud and clear: you cannot grow here.”
But there were some who spoke favorably of Ahmed. Abdul Hussain, a parent, said that “for two years we found unity.”
Ahmed is the first Yemeni-American to be appointed as superintendent of the Hamtramck School District.
There has been wide speculation over whether Ahmed will return in January.
Posted Oct. 22, 2021