Farmington Superintendent Admonishes School Board Member's Wife

Sue Zurvalec has asked Sue Burstein-Kahn to issue a written apology for using an expletive when addressing a teacher during the July 23 board meeting.

Farmington superintendent Sue Zurvalec issued a letter last week admonishing board critic Sue Burstein-Kahn. Photo credit: Patch file photo
Farmington superintendent Sue Zurvalec issued a letter last week admonishing board critic Sue Burstein-Kahn. Photo credit: Patch file photo
Tensions over an Aug. 6 Farmington Public Schools bond election that erupted at a July 23 school board meeting has prompted a warning to a vocal school board critic. 

After the incident between Sue Burstein-Kahn, wife of board member Murray Kahn, and district teacher Tera Shamey, Superintendent Susan Zurvalec sent a letter admonishing Burstein-Kahn. Patch obtained a copy of the letter and other correspondence, via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. 

In the letter, Zurvalec charged that during the July 23 meeting, Burstein-Kahn pointed at Shamey and said, "You're a bitch." Zurvalec issued three instructions: no further use of "demeaning and abusive language" at board meetings, a written apology to Shamey and no contact with district employees, except through Zurvalec's office. 

Failure to comply, Zurvalec wrote, "may result in removal from future Board of Education meetings or Farmington Public Schools' property". 

Citizens United responds

While Burstein-Kahn declined to comment for this article, Farmington Citizens United, an organization founded by Farmington Hills parent Kerry Jackson, issued a lengthy statement July 29 that said Shamey "called citizens of the school district 'racists'." 

In her comments during the meeting, which can be viewed online, Shamey said that criticism over the $222 million bond issue goes back to the selling of Eagle Elementary and past controversial decisions.

Shamey said criticism by the same core group "all stems back to this, what I believe, is a racist idea, that you shouldn't have made some of the decisions that you made over the past decade." 

In the release, Jackson wrote, "I am saddened that an employee of the district would use this type of divisive and degrading language. She debased the dignity of a public school system, which should exemplify the civic values of open engagement, robust debate, and thoughtful criticism with calling out engaged parents as 'racists'."

He said Farmington Citizens United "is made up people from all walks of life including racial and religious minorities.”

In email correspondence between Zurvalec and Murray Kahn, also obtained under the FOIA request, Zurvalec wrote that after conferring with legal counsel, she determined Shamey did not violate board policies regarding public comment.

"... it would be inappropriate for anyone in a position of authority (ie Board member or administrator) to discipline, admonish or reprimand her for her comments," Zurvalec wrote. 
Irving Ginsberg August 06, 2013 at 05:17 PM
FHVoice -- no facts, just drivel and inanities. If you don't know what the last word means, borrow Barry's new dictionary.
Joni Hubred-Golden August 06, 2013 at 06:19 PM
Everyone, Patch encourages a lively dialogue, but please refrain from personal attacks and stick to a discussion of the issues. Please remember our three main principles: “Keep it clean,” “Don’t try to trick people,” and “Treat others as you’d like to be treated.” (Especially that last one.)
Lori Roberts August 07, 2013 at 11:16 AM
The article is not about the bond.  It's about a super who decides to punish a Citizen for what, hearsay?  This must be a new way the Public School System handles 'justice'?  Are we a nation of Innocent until proven Guilty or Guilty until proven Innocent?  Was the citizen arrested?  Was the citizen allowed an attorney?  Where is the supers proof?  Is it legal to ban citizens from open meetings? Is there a video?  I know there was a video of the meeting.  I watched.  I heard no outburst from the audience.  Why was "Racist" even brought into the conversation by the teacher?  The article says the Patch received this information via FOIA.  How did the Patch even know about the supers disgruntled emotions before the FOIA?  Was the reporter of this story at the said meeting?  Did They hear an outburst?  Does the Patch and the super have a 'relationship' the people should know about?  Will others be targeted if disagreeance occurs?   How far will the super go with this new found power?  Do we still have a First Amendment?  Don't you Wished we all would have gotten the memo on how new government works in the public school?  I sure do.  "Question With Boldness ... " ~ Thomas Jefferson.  Perhaps We should re-read the headline.  Stay on topic.  
Raynond Oakleyr August 09, 2013 at 09:08 AM
Superintendent Sue Zuvalec, seems to be impressed with her power instead of her realizing that her bond issue faiiled and be accountable for amount of money she spent on this vote she desided to talk her blind followers to spend even more money in November she wil go out as the Superintendent that spent the most . Were other school districts are cutting back living within there budgets. And what happened to the money that is and will be coming from selling off school property or is the cash she is using for pushing throught her plan to be the superintendent who spent the most. And she has the mentality if you dont't agree with her she will find away to have you banded from further meetings .it is eather her way or the highway and the highway . We the voters have spoken and no matter how much you spend or how many time you put it on the ballot guess what it is not going to happened
FHVoice August 09, 2013 at 04:27 PM
Yes, the Aug bond issue was defeated by less than 1,000 votes. Yes, Superintendent Zuvalec feels the request was valid, and that a need remains unfilled. However, the slur that "she has the mentality if you dont't agree with her she will find away to have you banded from further meetings" is false. As to your declaration that no school bond issue will ever pass, well, that's just pure hubris.


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