Community concerns about Grand Ledge Public Schools superintendent candidate

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GRAND LEDGE, Mich. (WLNS)– Steven Gabriel is one of the three finalists in the running for superintendent of Grand Ledge Pubic Schools and community members are concerned that he’s not right for the top spot.

Gabriel is currently the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Operations at the school district.

According to his resume found on the districts website, he’s got a lengthy career in education and has stayed in Mid-Michigan for the majority of his time. In 2015 he was the principal of Grand Ledge High School. In that same year– the principal for Delta Center elementary school– Scott Eckhart was accused of sexually assaulting a coworker. He would later plead no contest to a charge of molesting or disturbing a coworker.

Zack Whaley is the administrative coordinator of Survivor Strong, an organization that supports survivors of sexual abuse. He says he’s been in communication with the victim in Eckhart’s case, who wants to remain anonymous.

According to Whaley, the allegations arose in April of 2015. He says there was a meeting with Brian Metcalf– the former Grand Ledge superintendent who was fired last year, and Steven Gabriel about the allegations against Eckhart.

Following that meeting, Whaley says Gabriel wrote this recommendation for Eckhart, just a few weeks after he was made aware of he accusations.

Letter provided by Zack Whaley with Survivor Strong

“It seems like the past few years like, an us verse them and the community is out to get the school or something opposed to wanting the school to succeed, obviously the community wants the school to do well, I want the school to do well, I want somebody whose a superintendent over there who is amazing,” said Whaley.

6 News spoke with the president of the Grand Ledge school board, Sara Clark Pierson,
who confirmed Gabriel wrote a letter of recommendation, but couldn’t get into specific dates besides the year it was written, 2015.

Clark Pierson also says that what Survivor Strong is saying is inconsistent with what she says the grand ledge school board understand happened. She also noted that Gabriel had no authority over Eckhart and he was just a colleague along with the fact that Eckhart wasn’t convicted until 4 years after the allegations. Clark Pierson also added that Eckhart was terminated in 2015 when the allegations arose.

Gabriel has an interview with the district board on Tuesday, May 11th, that can be watched online. The following day, the board will announce their selection from the finalists.

6 News also reached out to Gabriel for comment, but didn’t hear back. If we do hear back from Gabriel, this story will be updated.

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