Van Buren school board member accused of assaulting superintendent

Image 1 of 3

Allegations of assault between a school board member and a superintendent is the latest in a string of shocking behavior in the Van Buren school district.

According to the police report, last week longtime school board member Sherry Frazier says she set up a meeting with Van Buren schools Superintendent Michael Van Tassell.

They were meeting to discuss the issues plaguing the district - how teachers were accused of helping students cheat on the M-STEP, how teachers were mistreated and how a student brought a gun to school but the parents were never notified.

It appears the meeting did not go well.

"He slammed down his fist down on the table and called me a liar," said Frazier. "Naturally I was upset. He jumped up and told me he didn't need to take that sort of abuse any longer."

Frazier claims she followed Van Tassel into his office, where the argument continued.

"I touched Mr. Van Tassel's shirt to get his attention to ask him another question," she said. "He screams out 'Do not touch me.'"

A very frustrated Frazier felt the meeting was going nowhere and left.

She claims she didn't find out until the next day that Belleville police were called and Van Tassel had filed a complaint accusing her of assault.

"I was dumbfounded," she said. "I couldn't believe he would pursue something like this."

In the police report he accused her of grabbing his arm and poking him.

"No, no," she said. "I touched his sleeve. That is factual."

Come to find out, a few days later Mr. Van Tassel had a change of heart. The Belleville police chief said the superintendent decided not to pursue the assault charges against Frazier after all.

FOX 2 wanted to know why. We left messages and showed up to the administration office where the alleged assault occurred.

"Right now he is in the middle of a big long meeting," said one office official. "I can try to find out when he's going to be available."

But the man never came back with an answer and it was clear Van Tassel, who has been blamed by some parents and teachers for the ongoing problems and for more than 100 teachers fleeing the district, had no comment.

"I said well that's strange if I assaulted him he just wants to let it go," said Frazier. "I just want to let it go, do the best thing and not cause any more dissension in the school district."

Frazier said she just wanted to get answers about the district turmoil and hopes it can be turned around.