Months after controversial remark, Garden City schools head steps down

The Garden City schools superintendent is calling it quits.

Dr. Michelle Cline's resignation comes as the district continues negotiations with the teachers' union. From those negotiations came comments called controversial by many last January.

Cline is calling it quits after a seven-year run. Her resignation, which takes effect in a matter of months, was announced to staff in an email.

Cline surprised some with controversial comments during a meeting with staff, about the school district's future on Martin Luther King day. 

"It would be unfortunate if we are the first white school district and they're going to take one, I hope it's not going to be us," Cline said at the meeting.

Garden City High School teacher Dave Vandewater was one of the first to sound off on controversial comments when they were made last January.

He said he was surprised at the news Cline was stepping down.

"It wasn't something I suspected at all," Vandewater said. "Reading through it, it sounds like something she discussed with the board, and as far as I know, that was it."

Cline's comments while alarming to some, was nonetheless bolstered by former Inkster school officials and the board of the Detroit School Board.

"She said white privilege won't save you this time," said Lamar Lemmons of the Detroit School Board. "And they're going to take a white district."

Cline maintained she was making a point about the school's vulnerability of falling under emergency management or worse.

All of the districts that have done so, are primarily black and a big part of a lawsuit against the state about how Gov. Rick Snyder has used the Emergency Manager law.

"Since we have a lawsuit they're going to have to get a sacrificial lamb, a white district or two to say that it's not a racist law," Lemmons said. "And the districts just happened to be black that they've taken over."

Most Garden City school board members would not comment but Sarah Roffi said she appreciated Cline's dedication to the district and her commitment to putting students first.

While Cline says she's resigning for "various reasons."

FOX 2: "Do you think those comments played any role in Dr. Cline resigning?"

"I'm not sure," Vandewater said. "We would have to defer that one to asking her and ask the board."  

FOX 2:  "What does your gut tell you? "

"I don't ... if it did, it did," Vandewater said.

FOX 2 reached out to Cline this afternoon about her resignation. 

Her response:

"I need to decide if sharing information with you is in the best interest of our district as a whole," she said. "Can I have some time to think about it?"

Cline has not contacted FOX 2 to make further comment.

Cline's last day will be June 30. 

Vandewater, who is president of the Garden City Education Association, tells FOX 2 the district is no longer in danger of an emergency manager but is still looking to do more cost-cutting.

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