Top Michigan State attorney steps down
Kristine Zayko, acting vice president in the Office of the General Counsel at Michigan State University, is leaving her post, the university said.
Zayko, MSU’s deputy general counsel since 2008, submitted her notice last week to leave MSU and return to the private sector, MSU spokeswoman Emily Guerrant said Thursday.
“She gave notice on May 4 and is working a transition schedule for the office,” Guerrant said.
In response to an email Thursday seeking comment from Zayko, The News received a message saying she would be out of the office until May 11.
In February, interim MSU President John Engler appointed Zayko to her post as part of a new legal team, as the school struggled to cope with the fallout from the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal.
Zayko replaced Bob Noto, who stepped down in March after serving as the university’s general counsel since 1995.
Engler also appointed former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young Jr. as the lead counsel assigned to coordinate the numerous investigations involving MSU's handling of the allegations against Nassar and Title IX lawsuits that have been filed against the school.
MSU has been under federal monitoring for violating Title IX in the handling of sexual assault cases on campus. Title IX is a federal law that prohibits educational programs or activities from discriminating against someone on the basis of their sex.
Zayko was part of correspondence between MSU and the U.S. Department of Education that involved missing MSU files for a 2014 investigation. It’s unclear for which investigation the files pertained to based on redacted parts of the documents.
In an Oct. 10 letter to federal officials, Zayko said the university had followed its 2015 agreement with the federal office “in good faith” and in most respects, has “gone above and beyond its requirements.”
In September 2015, the Office of Civil Rights determined the university had violated Title IX in the handling of sexual assault cases on campus and had failed to comply with MSU’s official policies and measures. Because of the violations, MSU signed a “Resolution Agreement” to address the compliance issues identified by the civil rights office.
Under the resolution, MSU was required to examine past grievances filed and evaluate them to determine whether they were handled properly and if additional actions or investigations were warranted.
Nassar is never mentioned by name in the Oct. 10 letter, which was also sent to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
In the letter, Zayko complained that MSU had to wait years for input from the federal office.
“The university has worked tirelessly to assess and revise its policies and procedures to respond to OCR guidance and meet its obligations under Title IX, often with little or no input from OCR until years later,” Zayko wrote.
Nassar, 54, will spend the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography and sexual assault charges. He’s been accused of sexually abusing more than 250 women and girls under the guise of medical treatment, some of whom say their complaints to university officials went unheeded.