HPS Superintendent takes another leave of absence without explanation

HPS Superintendent Jaleelah Ahmed

By Charles Sercombe
A few weeks after getting a job evaluation that said she was “minimally effective,” Hamtramck Schools Superintendent Jaleelah Ahmed has taken a paid leave of absence.
The Review obtained an email announcing Ahmed’s leave through an anonymous source in the public school district, and confirmed the superintendent’s leave through other sources.
Neither the district nor Ahmed offered an explanation for her leave, nor did they say how long the leave will be. However, sources say it could be for as long as two months.
Ahmed did not respond to an email for a comment about her job performance evaluation.
“Minimally effective” is one step up from the poorest job evaluation of “ineffective.”
That evaluation came after the school board met for three hours in a closed meeting to discuss her yearly job performance. According to sources, it was a heated meeting.
Board Vice President Salah Hadwan took part in that evaluation, but left before the board returned to officially vote on the evaluation in an open meeting.
Boardmembers did not explain their decision.
The decision by the board means that Ahmed will not get an automatic one-year contract extension, nor a “merit” bonus worth $11,700.
In order to qualify for that merit pay, Ahmed had to get an evaluation of “effective” or “highly effective.”
This is not the first time Ahmed has taken a leave of absence. In October of 2022, she took a Family Medical Leave citing the stress from handling the covid pandemic, and said she would return in January.
However, the school board at that time put her on suspension pending an investigation – an investigation that was never explained and ultimately led to no action.
Ahmed returned earlier this year, and was given a new contract with a $50,000 salary increase.
Her salary grew to $195,000, plus an additional $24,000 for overseeing the recreation department. The contract was extended to February of 2027. Every year, she is also eligible for a 6 percent additional “merit” pay if she gets a good evaluation.
The board gave her that new contract despite Ahmed having a pending lawsuit filed against the district. The board did not require her to withdraw her lawsuit.
During Ahmed’s tenure, a wave of experienced teachers and staff resigned, which has created a critical shortage of staff members. Some of those former employees wrote letters to the board saying that, under Ahmed, the work environment had become “toxic.”
News of Ahmed’s leave of absence drew criticism on social media.
In the Facebook page called “I love Hamtramck and actually live here,” K. Natasha Foreman had this to say:
“This really is a serious situation. Jaleelah Ahmed has managed to do this now twice, at taxpayers’ expense, great expense. …”
Diana Elizabeth said that this makes the district look like a ‘joke.”
“It’s embarrassing. I feel sorry for the teachers and especially for the students,” Elizabeth said.

The district hired an interim director, Michael Williamson, at Wednesday’s monthly board meeting. He has over 45 years experience in education, and is the president of School Quality Solutions.

His salary will be negotiated.
Posted Feb. 9, 2024

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