Jeff Leonhardt Breaks the Ranks; Voters To Have Their Say in November

On Monday, TCAPS board member Jeff Leonhardt publicly broke the party ranks. He and the outspoken Erica Moon-Mohr were the only two board members who failed to cast a vote for long-time TCAPS administrator Jame McCall for the open TCAPS superintendent spot. Who is Jeff Leonhardt, and what can we read into the fact that he failed to vote for McCall?

The Traverse City Ticker says that Jeff Leonhardt was a social studies teacher at TC East Middle School. His Linkedin profile says that he is retired. Rate My Teacher doesn’t have any ratings for him, which is probably a sign that you’re neither outstanding nor controversial.

Did the fact that Leonhardt is up for re-election before other board members play a role in his decision to vote for candidates other than McCall? Jane Klegman is also up for reelection in 2020. Not only did Klegman vote for McCall, but she also tried to call for a revote when McCall failed to advance to the final round.

Will the 2020 TCAPS board election be a single-issue election featuring Leonhardt on one side (who broke the Sue Kelly ranks), and Klegman on the other (who fought for McCall until the bitter end)? Is Leonhardt too far entrenched with Sue Kelly and her policies to avoid the backlash in the voting booth by breaking the ranks now? Is Sue Kelly correct that the TCAPS reform movement is a mere vocal minority?

Perhaps she is. However, it’s also possible that TCAPS has done too much for too long without accountability. The Homeschool Partnership fraud, which remains unresolved, the Grant Chandler/Jame McCall contracts, and how Ann Cardon’s departure played out are just a few of the things that members of the public have seen come and go without Sue Kelly ever explaining herself or answering to the public for what she is doing with their tax dollars. While it’s true that Sue Kelly and her cohorts got more votes than others at one time, even Richard Nixon once won the popular vote. Winning an election gives you the authority to govern; it never gives you the power to rule.

Will Sue Kelly make sure that Jeff Leonhardt atones?

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6 thoughts on “Jeff Leonhardt Breaks the Ranks; Voters To Have Their Say in November”

  1. One significant aspect of Jeff Leonhardt’s background that is not pointed out in this specific posting is the fact that he was a HUGE player in the TCEA — the teachers union. In fact, he served as their president for a period of time. I would love for DirtyTraverseCity to do a little digging into this part of Leonhardt’s past in order to understand the maneuvering he is making here in current circumstances.

    He would have had a lot of interactions with Jame McCall during those years. And he would fully understand that while there are few in the teaching ranks that might have had some affinity for McCall, Leonhardt would also fully be aware of the many, many teachers who had grievances and complaints with McCall. It would be really interesting to find out how many times Leonhardt had to go toe-to-toe with McCall while representing frustrated union members.

    Stepping back and speaking more broadly, both Leonhardt and Forton were major voices in all things union-related when they were in the teaching ranks. And “Boardman” (which is the term often used for district administration) was their mortal enemy… their dastardly foe… their arch-nemesis.

    Forton, in fact, was always a real sourpuss for any idea coming out from anything “Boardman.” Her natural response was to mistrust, dismiss, express frustration, and be negative. It did not matter whether the idea or initiative was good quality and supportive of teachers and students, or not. If it had a “Boardman” whiff about it, Forton was basically a horse’s ass – turning up her nose like she was being forced to eat boiled Brussels sprouts. “Boardman” in her eyes was the enemy that she had to battle with – come hell or high water.

    Both Forton’s and Leonhardt’s maneuvering has always intrigued me in all of this. What political motives did they have for running for school board once they retired from teaching?

    I suspect they thought that finally the teachers would have a strong voice in the district if two of the former TCEA leaders joined up with “enemy forces” and operated from within. This would appeal to the many, many teachers who live and work in our community. [Sidenote: Though there are a few nuts and duds in the teaching corps – the vast majority are amazing, doing the best they can for kids, and deserve so much support and encouragement from all of us. Thank you teachers.]

    Where am I going with all of this? Well, Leonhardt not voting for McCall — at all — in his three choices doesn’t exactly surprise me. He knows that a nod to McCall would NOT go down with the teachers he represented as the major union guy he was. Again, she’s got a few fans, but most teachers immediately eye-roll when it comes to McCall. Leonhardt knows this. And his relationship with the teachers he has stood for over the years clearly matters to him, still.

    Forton is the interesting one. She knows that McCall is NOT loved by the teachers. And she has hated “Boardman” for years (both the thoughtful, quality leaders of TCAPS past — as well as the disappointments that have existed within TCAPS admin as well). If McCall isn’t the face of “Boardman,” then I don’t know who is. So Forton’s vote baffles me. This is not consistent with the disdain she has always had for all things “Boardman.”

    Unless… unless… power has seduced her, and Forton is leaving behind her former “I got to fight for my teaching colleagues” battle stance and getting in bed with Kelly and Co. Has Pam Forton left behind the TCEA cause and her TCEA friends that she always stood for because power tastes so good to her? Such a typical “mean girls” move to leave behind her friends to join with the other “powerful” girls of Kelly and Klegman. Forton casts aside her loyalty to teachers when the taste of power touches her lips. There’s your headline, DirtyTraverseCity.

    Watch this space. It’s in this woman’s DNA to be a b*tch – she’s just not a pleasant person at all. Leonhardt seems to still feel loyalty to his TCEA members. Forton’s slithering makes her a perfect fit for Kelly’s little crew.

  2. PS. Anita — I am a huge fan of your “Miss Fortune” persona and the “Glistening, Quivering Underbelly” blog. Excellent stuff. A little starstruck here! 🙂

  3. This whole TCAPS spectacle is both fun and interesting in many ways. Philosophy and history teachers should use this soap opera as a living and breathing teaching aid to help students get a grasp on how the actors in this drama used/use Machiavellian tactics in order to get ahead on the modern T.C. stage. I think a good name for this play could be: The “Prince Revisited in the age of Trump narcissism, straw men and nepotism in the atomic age.”

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