New Trustee Appointed to the Washtenaw ISD Board of Education



At a special board meeting held on Tuesday, July 20, 2021, the Washtenaw Intermediate School District (WISD) Board of Education interviewed four candidates to fill a vacancy left by Dr. Mary Jo Callan on June 30, 2021. Callan stepped down from the position as part of her transition to Providence, RI, where she has been appointed Executive Director of the Swearer Center and associate dean for engaged scholarship at Brown University.

After approximately two hours of interviews, the WISD Board of Education appointed Don L. Garrett, Jr., of Ypsilanti to complete the term through June 2023. The district accepted letters of intent and resumes for interested candidates from June 23 through July 9. Qualified applicants needed to be a resident of the school district of Dexter, Chelsea, Lincoln, Manchester, Milan, Saline, Whitmore Lake, or Ypsilanti.

Due to state law dictating that no more than two members of the board may be from the same school district, residents of Ann Arbor Public Schools were ineligible. Applicants also needed to be at least 18 years old, a registered voter in the school district where they are a candidate, and a citizen of the United States.

The WISD Board also requested that applicants demonstrate a commitment to WISD’s Educational Equity Policy. The WISD Board of Education interviewed Glen McIntosh of Dexter, Kimberly Samuelson of Ypsilanti (Lincoln), Nicole Balensiefer of Saline, and Don L. Garrett, Jr., of Ypsilanti. Each interview lasted approximately 25-30 minutes, during which the Board asked a breadth of questions seeking to better understand each candidate’s experiences and their vision for education in Washtenaw County.

Immediately following the interviews, the Board engaged in discussion and deliberation, and unanimously selected Don L. Garrett, Jr.

“As a former board trustee of Willow Run and Ypsilanti Community Schools, Don L. Garrett, Jr., brings a wealth of knowledge of our local school system, a fierce devotion to children and students in our community, and a proven track record of school governance leadership,” stated WISD Board President Steve Olsen. “We are pleased to welcome Don to the WISD Board of Education, and we are confident he will be a valuable advocate on behalf of children, students, and families in Washtenaw County.”

Prior to joining the WISD Board of Education, Garrett served on the school boards of Willow Run Community Schools (2009-2013; Board President 2011-2013) and Ypsilanti Community Schools (VicePresident 2013-2015). He was critical to the successful consolidation of Willow Run Community Schools and Ypsilanti Public Schools. As a graduate of Willow Run High School and Washtenaw Community College, Garrett has deep ties to Washtenaw County.

As interviews were conducted virtually as allowed by the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioner’s State of Emergency, Garrett will be sworn in in-person later this week.

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