DPS trustee sues district following new board appointment

Photo courtesy of the Dearborn Public Schools Celia Nasser (left) is sworn in as the newest Dearborn Public Schools trustee by 19th District Court Judge Sam Salamey June 26.

Photo courtesy of the Dearborn Public Schools
Celia Nasser (left) is sworn in as the newest Dearborn Public Schools trustee by 19th District Court Judge Sam Salamey June 26.

 

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Dearborn Public Schools Board of Education Trustee Hussein Berry announced he is filing a lawsuit against the district over its recent appointment of a new member.

During the board’s June 26 meeting, Celia Nasser was formally sworn in by 19th District Court Judge Sam Salamey. Shortly following the oath reading, Berry asked Trustee Mary Lane if he could make a statement about the lawsuit.

He said that the lawsuit regarding Nasser’s appointment was not personal to her or the other candidates, but instead to the process.

“It is a very, very sad day that I had to file this lawsuit in order to bring out how this process went down,” Berry said. “I didn’t have a choice. I did not want to do this. I definitely did not want to do it. I begged to give us 24 hours to sort it out and willing to cancel the lawsuit for another vote.”

Berry shared that in a June 8 board brief for the June 12 meeting it said that a conference call by Supt. Glenn Maleyko and Lane took place about the vote with Michigan Leadership Institute President and CEO Michael Wilmot and the Michigan Association of School Boards.

“A vote of four is necessary even if a trustee decides to recuse him or herself from the process,” Berry read from the board brief which he said was the last information he saw going into the meeting. “If the board does not appoint a trustee by June 21 then the county will make that decision.”

The June 12 meeting is where Berry said he would abstain from the vote just as he did from the interview process the meeting prior.

During the meeting, two votes took place where Trustees Lane, Michael Meade and Fadwa Hammoud voted for Nasser while Trustees Mary Petlichkoff and Jim Thorpe voted for former Trustee Roxanne McDonald.

Berry continued to explain that he was not called upon to vote both times during the June 12 meeting and that four votes would be majority of the board, not the three, so his abstention should not have counted.

“I did not want this process to go down at this level,” Berry said. “It’s not because I didn’t want to make a vote or not because I was not happy with the candidates. I just wanted to move it forward. I believe there was a violation of the Opening Meetings Act.”

Berry informed the board and public that his attorney is looking into a possible Open Meetings Act violation as well.

The $25,000 lawsuit lists Dearborn Public Schools, Henry Ford College and Lane as the defendants filed with Wayne County.

A temporary injunction request against Nasser’s appointment has been denied as of June 26. A status conference is scheduled for Sept. 26.

No board members responded or made comments regarding the lawsuit during the meeting.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at zeinabnajm92@gmail.com.)