President of school board, Brian Summerfield, abruptly steps down


Brian Summerfield talks at a board meeting on June 24, 2019. Summerfield stepped down Jan. 2 from his position as Board of Education president. Photo by Imran Siddiqui '20.

Erin Astfalk '21, Staff writer

In a seemingly abrupt move, Grosse Pointe Public School System Board of Education President Brian Summerfield announced that he is stepping down from his position on Jan 2.
Summerfield has been a trustee on the Board for nearly seven years, taking on the role of president for the past three, according to Board Vice President Margaret Weertz.
“Mr. Summerfield was one of the best board members in the past 30 years,” Weertz said. “He took his post extremely seriously.”
Summerfield announced his resignation via social media, stating his move was due to the stress the position had on him and his family, according to Weertz.
“I believe the job became too demanding on many levels and took many hours away from his family,” according to Weertz.
The position of president is an enormous task and has many responsibilities, Board Secretary Kathleen Abke said.
“There are many jobs that only the president can do,” Abke said. “This includes running the board meetings, approving the agenda, and speaking for the board publicly.”
Summerfield led the district through many tough decisions and dealt with every problem with an open mind, according to Weertz.
“He led us through the decision to reconfigure the district and close two schools,” Weertz said. “That was one of the district’s most challenging things to do.”
Even with any backlash the school board received, the members fully support and respect Summerfield’s decision, according to Board trustee Christopher Profeta.
“As elected officials we are all fair game for criticism and should deal with tough questions,” Profeta said. “But family is a priority and should not be involved in school politics.”
Within his three years as president, Summerfield had many visions and accomplished many things for the district, according to Weertz.
“He, along with the Board, made sure our staff was getting adequately compensated,” Weertz said. “In addition, he steadfastly helped this board go from a five percent fund balance to 14 percent.”
The resignation of Summerfield was a great loss to the Board, according to Profeta.
“Brian always respected and valued everyone’s opinion,” Profeta said. “Not everyone (saw) eye-to-eye, but Brian practiced compromise and healthy debate.”
Temporarily, Weertz will fill the role until someone is elected, according to Abke.
“The board elects officers every January,” Abke said. “A new president will likely be elected at the meeting on January 13.”
As the school board begins to look to the future, Summerfield’s impact will be remembered, Profeta said.
“Brian always encouraged us to consider issues thoughtfully and come to our own decisions,” Profeta said. “I’m going to try to continue to work this way.”
Summerfield did an excellent job at balancing and maintaining his many responsibilities, according to Weertz.
“On top of all his work for the district, Brian has a law practice, three kids in school, and served as the Detroit Bar Association President,” Weertz said.
As the Board grieves the loss of their president, Summerfield’s service to the school system will always be appreciated, according to Abke.
“Brian was a tremendous asset to the board,” Abke said. “We will miss his dedication, leadership, and ethics.”