DEARBORN HEIGHTS — Jennifer Mast, who has served as superintendent since 2017, announced that she is stepping down and returning to a classroom at the start of the new school year.
In a letter to the Board of Education, Mast said that it is “with mixed emotions” that she makes this decision.
“It has always been my goal as superintendent of schools to make decisions that are in the best interest of our students, our community and our staff,” the letter said. “We all know having a positive, productive relationship between the superintendent and the Board is necessary for good things to happen in a school district. The eight of us owe it to the students and their families to work together as a team. At this point, I realize that there are irreconcilable differences between the Board and myself. I feel that the damage that has been done to the relationship is impossible to repair. It is not fair to the students and families of District 7 to be led by a team that can’t be successful.”
Mast told The Arab American News that working together was no longer an option.
“The relationship between myself and the Board of Education has been damaged beyond repair,” she said. “It is imperative for the superintendent and the Board to be able to work together as a team in order to achieve positive change and ensure ongoing success for our students. Once I realized that working together was no longer a possibility, I owed it to the families of District 7 to step down so that the Board may find a superintendent that they are able to work with in order to move forward.”
The letter to the board went on to say that Mast had made a promise to herself to not stay in the position when she felt as though she could no longer make positive change, and that she feels that time has come and she would like to return to teaching.
“According to my contract and the Michigan tenure law, I am entitled to return to a classroom teaching position that I am qualified for and is available under the guidelines of the collective bargaining agreement of teachers,” the letter read. “There are several positions that are open in the district at this point that I am qualified to fill. Furthermore, my contract requires that I give the Board 30 day notice of my decision to leave the superintendent position. However, I realize the need for loose ends to be tied up and a smooth transition to new leadership.”
The letter also said that Mast would agree to stay on for up to 60 days if necessary.
Mast also told The Arab American News that she has no plans on leaving D7 for good.
“I will return to teaching in the fall,” she said. “I will remain in District 7 and continue to serve the families that I’ve always been committed to helping.”
Having recently passed a bond for upgrades to buildings in the district, and having told The Arab American News previously of her valued bond with students and families in the district, Mast said that she will ensure a smooth transition of projects to avoid disruption.
“I want the students and parents to know that this was an incredibly difficult decision to make,” she said. “I had every intention of retiring from the superintendent position. I am heartbroken that I was not able to follow through on that plan. I want the very best for the families of District 7 and that will be my focus in any position that I’m placed in. It is my goal to make for a smooth transition to new leadership. I am fortunate to have an outstanding administrative cabinet that work with me on most district projects. My team and I will use the next few weeks to make sure that all projects will continue with little to no interruption. The bond projects should not be impacted by a change in leadership. The bond team will keep things moving forward as planned.”
As the board is required by law to have a superintendent at all times, it will have to name an interim superintendent to take the seat until a permanent replacement for Mast is found.