Teachers, parents voice concerns over staffing changes in Buchanan schools

BUCHANAN, Mich. (WNDU) - Tensions ran high at the Buchanan Community Schools Board of Education meeting Monday night. Dozens of concerned teachers and parents voiced their concerns over recent staffing changes.

Much of the frustration stems from longtime Buchanan educator Karin Falkenstein being reassigned from her position as principal at Ottawa Elementary School to special education director.

Superintendent Timothy Donahue said the move is possible because Falkenstein is technically a contractor within the district. But dozens of parents and teachers said this is just one of many frustrations they have concerning Donahue and what detractors termed the board's questionable decision-making, wishing residents were heard.

“To us, it just feels like we're unimportant,” Buchanan Education Association secretary Jessica Elliott said. “It feels as though we're dispensable and as though our positions aren't valued. It just feels like a huge slap in the face.”

“All the decisions that I make or that the board of education makes are about the best welfare of our students,” Donahue said. “So, part of those considerations is to look at who’s able to serve our students in the many programs that Buchanan runs. The decision that we made is very respectful of Ms. Falkenstein's position in her career.”

Parents and teachers also voiced their concerns that Donahue's contract has already been extended.

Donahue has formed an advisory committee to create an open dialogue with teachers, but teachers said they have not heard about those concerns since the committee was created. Donahue said that is because the board has not met to address those concerns.