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Ferndale Schools Sues Former Superintendent Gary Meier

sideGARDENtopFerndale Schools Sues Former Superintendent Gary Meierseed14_chad_matt

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Jan. 13, 2015)

Ferndale Superintendent Blake Prewitt announced that today that a civil suit has been filed against former Superintendent Gary Meier. Meier’s last couple of years as Superintendent were marred by scandal as details of his side consulting, and use of Ferndale Schools resources for his own benefit emerged. Meier resigned last year after it was learned that he had started a new consulting company with a new name after telling the Board that he would no longer be doing the side consulting work.  Previously Meier owned a consulting firm called ICE.  In May 2014 it was 934_8600_Gen-Online_Banners3discovered that he owned a consulting firm called Equity where he was working with Charter Schools in Detroit, an area competing with Ferndale Schools.

Meier had been Superintendent from 2000 to May 2014.

Prewitt’s statement to parents said “I am writing to inform you that today, the Ferndale School District Board of Education filed a civil lawsuit against former Superintendent Gary Meier. In the lawsuit, the Board of Education is alleging that Mr. Meier used and/or diverted resources of the district, including his own time and that of other district employees, to activities involving another company.

“The most important priority for Ferndale Schools will always be the Detroit_GT_05achievement of all of our students. While this circumstance is unfortunate please know that we will continue to offer an outstanding education for all of our students and will be bringing more innovative programs forward.

“As the lawsuit moves forward please understand that – despite our commitment to transparency – we will be legally limited to what we can discuss. Please direct any questions you have to the Superintendent’s office.”

Prewitt added in a phone interview that “In looking at the evidence we found, and with the advice of legalseed019_Cherie_Rolfe counsel, we felt that it was the right thing to do.” He said that the focus, as always, is on the students and that the District will continue to announce new programs and improvements, including the new Montessori program and upcoming college courses that will be offered to students.

A copy of the filing can be downloaded at Gary Meier Civil Suit oc115.

The suit seeks remedy for Breach of Contract, Unjust Enrichment, and Tortious Interference.  The Breach of Contract claim comes from Meier’s alleged failure to provide notice of side work or fulfill his obligations as Superintendent.  Unjust Enrichment comes from the claim that Meier and his employees used Ferndale School time and resources for their own gain.  And Tortious Interference is the claim that Meier’s contracts under Equity caused him to terminate his contract with Ferndale Schools before it’s intended end date of 2016.seed01_jack_miller

According to the filing, part of Meier’s contract stated “The SUPERINTENDENT agrees to devote his full time and effort to the job of Superintendent of Schools.” The contract did allow for “educational consultative work, speaking engagements, writing, lecturing or other professional activities,” but stipulated that these would be done “with notice to the Board” The District says that Meier and several school district employees were “involved in forming, managing, and operating an entity known as Equity Education Management Solutions LLC.”

The District claims Meier did not provide notice of his side consulting. “Plaintiff was unaware CFSEM-123-OaklandCounty115-digital-ad_v2that Meier was in fact involved in those efforts until Plaintiff discovered them in May 2014. Meier decided to immediately resign and retire as superintendent of Ferndale Public Schools in May, 2014 to avoid any further investigation of his involvement with EQUITY,” the lawsuit states.

When asked about the potential costs to the District, Prewitt said that in reviewing legal expenses for previous years, even with this case, the Board anticipated having lower expenditures than in the past.  Additionally he said “You have to move forward with what you think is right.  The District had been wronged and the Board is doing what is right.”

The Oakland County 115 News, then called the Ferndale 115, provided award-winning coverage of controversial contracts with Meier and his previous consulting firm ICE in 2012, plus coverage of his early retirement.  Below are the stories:seed48030_barbara_winter_janfebmarch2015


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