Dearborn Heights, MI – A Michigan public schools superintendent was suspended for five days without pay after she violated a school policy by bringing a bottle of champagne onto school property to celebrate a party for retiring colleagues.
Dearborn Heights School District 7 Superintendent Jennifer Mast was suspended May 13 by the school board, according to the Detroit Free Press. Mast’s gross wages were $131,706 in 2017-18.
Mast said she brought the bottle of champagne for a toast and poured it for some of the people who attended the party for the retiring employees, the Detroit Free Press reported.
The event was held on June 21, 2018 after students and teachers were gone for the summer.
"We drank literally, half of bottle of champagne and there were 12 adults present," Mast said, according to the Detroit Free Press. "It was completely innocent."
The school district has a policy that prohibits alcohol or drugs on all school property, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Mast said she expected to be disciplined but was stunned by the severity of the suspension.
School Board President Mandy Diroff released a statement.
"The Board of Education expects the superintendent will be in the district fulfilling her duties next week as the district staff continues to provide its excellent educational services to all of its students," Diroff said in the statement, according to the Detroit Free Press. "Since this is a personnel matter subject to applicable privacy rights, no further comments will be made."
Attorneys hired by the school board investigated the complaint and Mast told them she brought the champagne but didn’t notice who drank the alcohol, according to the Detroit Free Press.
"My intentions when bringing champagne for a toast was to celebrate and show appreciation to the dedicated staff we have in D7," Mast said, according to the Detroit Free Press. "My intention was to build morale among staff where the morale had been at an all-time low prior to my leadership. … I never dreamed that I would be suspended for five days without pay. I never imagined being asked for my keys, escorted out of my building and losing access to my email, voice mail, etc."