Charges against former Hale superintendent dropped as he resigns from position

IRESA’s McGrew appointed interim superintendent

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HALE — Eavesdropping charges against former Hale Area Schools Superintendent Ron Vannest have been dropped as part of a plea agreement that saw Vannest resign from his position as superintendent, effective May 21.

Vannest was charged March 23 with felony eavesdropping after the Michigan State Police alleged he recorded a closed session during the school board’s Dec. 18 meeting. The closed session was reportedly at the request of a parent to discuss a complaint against Vannest.

Iosco Regional Educational Service Agency Superintendent Dana McGrew has assumed the role of interim superintendent for the district. In a press release issued by McGrew, Hale President Valerie Cryderman said she wants the community to know that the board and the district’s administration are happy with the results.

“From the outset, the Michigan State Police were immediately responsive to and supportive of the board’s needs,” Cryderman said in the release. “When we made the report, an officer was dispatched to the district within a short time after the report was made and an intensive investigation ensued. Upon completion of that investigation, Iosco County Prosecutor Gary Rapp took a personal interest in this case and reached out to the school board to determine its wishes on the matter.”

Rapp confirmed to a Herald reporter that charges against Vannest had been dropped as part of the agreement. Court documents indicate the charge was dismissed without prejudice.

Cryderman said the school board supported the result.

“Mr. Vannest’s resignation avoided additional legal expenses and expenditures of staff resources that would have been associated with further legal proceedings,” Cryderman said. “I speak for both the board and its administration in expressing our appreciation and gratitude to the Michigan State Police and the Iosco County Prosecutor’s Office for their strong support of the district in this difficult matter. They are an asset to our community.”

As a result of the vacant position, the district appointed McGrew as its interim superintendent while the district searches for a replacement. McGrew also said in the release that he felt the prosecutor’s handling of the case to be in the best interest of the community.

“With this issue out of the way, we can now move forward with our main objective, which is to serve the families of the Hale community,” McGrew said in the release. “I would encourage any community members with questions concerning this matter or any other issue of concern to reach out to me. We are confident that the Hale Area Schools is now back on the right track.”

McGrew can be reached at 989-728-7661.

As for a timeline for finding a replacement, McGrew told the Herald Monday that the board would discuss plans during its August meeting. One of the board members is tied up for the July meeting, he said.

He added that with the district in good shape financially and with staffing, there isn’t a big rush to find a replacement before next school year. He said the board would rather find the right candidate than rush into something.

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