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Jennifer Martin hopes to begin her role as Ypsilanti Public Schools' new assistant superintendent of educational quality before the district begins its next fiscal year at the end of June.
The district's board of education unanimously approved her two-year contract and $108,000 annual salary at its meeting Monday night. She will replace Richard Weigel, who accepted a position as superintendent of Niles Community Schools in April.
Martin is currently the principal of the Oak Park Preparatory Academy. Before her three years in Oak Park, she was the assistant principal of Detroit Technology High School for two years and administrative curriculum director for Joy Middle School for four years. She earned her bachelor's degree in elementary education from Wayne State University in 1995 and her master's degree in educational administration from WSU in 1999. She is currently pursuing doctorate from Walden University.
Before voting on the appointment, several members of the board expressed satisfaction that the board's human relations committee was able to review and approve the hiring. Trustees Sarah Devaney, Kira Berman and Vice President Linda Horne said they were pleased with the process.
Devaney said the lack of the committee's involvement in hiring incoming High School Principal Justin Moore was the reason she voted against Moore's appointment in April.
While the job was being posted, Trustee Andy Fanta had raised concerns about the title of assistant superintendent for the position replacing Weigel. Fanta said Weigel was hired in the district as a director and the assistant superintendent position was later given to him to help with his search for a superintendent position. Fanta suggested hiring Weigel's replacement as a director and not an assistant superintendent.
After Monday's meeting, Fanta said approving Martin's appointment was a different issue than the title that was posted for the job vacancy. He said he only considered her previous experience when deciding his vote on hiring her into the district.
Superintendent Dedrick Martin, who is not related to Jennifer, said the decision to hire her was heavily influenced by a presentation the candidates had to do during the selection process on the work they had done to close the achievement gap between white and minority students.
“Ms. Martin clearly distinguished herself as the head of the pack,” Dedrick Martin said during Monday's meeting. “We hope that she brings that same desire and ambition to this district.”
After her appointment was approved by the board, Jennifer Martin said she has a strong passion for educating youth and closing the achievement gap. She said the opportunity to pursue both of these goals was attracted her to the district.
A Farmington Hills resident, she said the Ypsilanti community attracted her as well. She highlighted the residents' cohesiveness and value of tradition as attractors, as well as the college-town feel of the area.
“I appreciate the support,” Jennifer Martin said of the unanimous decision by the board to approve her appointment.
She said she hopes to use the support to “hit the ground running.”
With both her current school district and YPS in deficit elimination proceedings, she said she has experience dealing with a limited and shrinking budget.