KPS board appoints ‘acting’ supt as administrator faces charges

Dennis Mansfield, Contributing Writer

Courtesy photo

Kalkaska Public Schools Superintendent Terry Starr

KALKASKA – Less than a year ago, the Kalkaska Public Schools Board of Education hired Terry Starr, then a middle school principal with Elk Rapids Public Schools, to take the school district in a more positive direction and improve staff morale.

But, last week, the school board moved to place Starr on paid administrative leave and appoint an acting superintendent while Starr, who took over as the district’s top administrator in July 2018, faces charges for allegedly falsely reporting – a felony, and failure to report child abuse. The charges date back to his tenure in Elk Rapids.

“The board of education of the Kalkaska Public Schools recently became aware of criminal charges being filed against Supt. Terry Starr,” said Rachel Birgy, KPS school board president, in a statement released Friday, April 12.

“The charges are only allegations,” Birgy said. “Mr. Starr is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The release of the statement by the KPS board followed a special meeting, at which school board members also announced the appointment of Kalkaska Middle School Principal Staci Short as “acting superintendent” effective April 12.

“After the district was apprised of the charges, the district’s administrative team met to outline a preliminary course of action,” Birgy added. “The district will continue to monitor Mr. Starr’s criminal proceedings and provide updates to the school community as they become available.”

Starr, who reportedly had turned himself into authorities, was arraigned on Thursday, April 11, in the 86th District Court in Bellaire on charges of false reporting of a felony, intentional false report of child abuse and slander.

He was released on $2,500 personal recognizance bond later that day. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for May 1.

Attorney Donald Passenger, who represented Starr at his arraignment last week, said his client maintains his innocence.

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