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Farmington school trustee who was censured: 'I'm in good trouble'

Jasmin Barmore
The Detroit News

A Farmington schools trustee who was censured at a board meeting this week where two members and superintendent resigned said the rebuke signals that they want her to "shut up" and not challenge or question her colleagues. 

Angie Smith, the Farmington Public Schools board secretary, was censured for "conduct unbecoming a board member" after the panel said she made public comments and social media posts that caused disruptions to meetings and made it difficult for the superintendent "to perform his duties and provide leadership ...," a board resolution said Monday night.

Angie Smith

“I’m not in trouble, I’m in good trouble,” Smith said Thursday. “They don’t want me to keep bringing up stuff because I ask questions and they don’t like that. This is just their way of telling me to shut up.

”If you look at our board meetings, all they say is Ms. Smith, you are out of line, and I am not out of line. I can speak," she said. "You can’t tell a board member to keep quiet, but that is what they like to do.”

A statement read by board president Pam Green at Monday's meeting, at which she, Trustee Terry Johnson and Superintendent Robert Herrera announced their departures, cited Smith's public statements and social media posts that alleged Herrrera was against African American students and staff in submitting his resignation.

For subscribers:'Dysfunction' blamed for loss of Farmington's top three school officials

Herrera had filed a harassment claim against Smith, which she said cited a "hostile work environment." The filing will be dropped, the district said, now that he is leaving. The district declined to elaborate on Herrera's claim. 

"His skill set was like nothing we have ever seen in this district," Green said Monday of Herrera. "So this is painful. Very painful."

Smith denied posting comments about the board or Herrera on social media.

"I would never discredit any of my board members, past or present ... let alone the superintendent," she said.

Smith said dysfunction on the board is nothing new, "it's just become more visible."

“What is happening now is that it is showing and they need a scapegoat," she said.

Pamela Green

On Thursday, Green said through tears that she was exhausted by the drama on the board.

“Angie Smith is always in the middle of gossip and personnel issues, and I am so tired," she said. "I am embarrassed and I feel so bad because I feel like I let everyone down. I love these kids, and Farmington just lost an amazing superintendent.”

Green added that she had not seen or heard any of harsh comments posted on social media by Smith about the board or superintendent.

Johnson, the board's vice president, told the panel he was resigning 45 days before his term expires because the group "has just completely changed."

"It's really unfortunate that we've actually gotten to a position where we can't even disagree without being disagreeable ... We need some real change in this district and we need to hold people accountable," he said.

Terry Johnson

For her part, Smith said “this could have all been solved with a simple conversation."

“All Dr. Herrera had to do was come to me and say, Angie I don’t like how this is going. ... I do have a strong personality, that is true, so I would have told him what I didn’t like either. But I would have been good with that.

"It didn’t have to lead to him resigning," she said. "I'm not happy about this because of how it affects our district. It hurts our community, it hurts our students, our parents and our schools."