Hartland Principal Goes on Indefinite Leave in Wake of MEAP, Graduation Party Controversies
The Argentine Township underage drinking case is set for a 1 p.m. pretrial hearing Wednesday in Genesee County's 67th District Court before Judge Mark McCabe.
Creekside Elementary School Principal Tracey Sahouri — who has been under fire recently over her handling of this year's MEAP test and accusations that she allowed underage drinking at her Argentine Township home — has taken an indefinite leave of absence, according to a letter to parents.
Hartland School District Superintendent Janet Sifferman did not address either controversy in a brief letter, in which she also announced that Lawrence Pumford will serve as acting principal. Pumford has worked in the district for more than 11 years, most recently as an assistant principal at Hartland High School.
"Please feel free to contact Mr. Pumford or me if you have any specific concerns regarding your children," she wrote. (A copy of the letter is included as a PDF with this story).
Hartland Patch could not reach Sifferman or Sahouri's attorney in the underage drinking case, Michael P. Manley, immediately Tuesday for comment. An email to Sahouri also has not been immediately returned.
Sahouri's troubles began over the summer when she and her husband, Raed, were ticketed on the charge of knowingly allowing underage drinking at their child's graduation party that was held at the couple's Argentine Township home just north of Livingston County.
The couple have maintained their innocence, arguing that they followed the law by contacting authorities once they discovered the illegal drinking in an incident where a 16-year-old Linden girl had to be hospitalized.
Violating the party host law is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or $1,000 fine.
The case is set for a 1 p.m. pretrial hearing Wednesday in Genesee County's 67th District Court before Judge Mark McCabe. A tentative Nov. 17 trial date also has been scheduled.
When the school year started, Hartland officials allowed Sahouri to continue on the job after its own investigation found the allegations not credible enough to take further action until the case was resolved or more evidence was uncovered.
Earlier this month, Sahouri was again in the spotlight after the Michigan Department of Education found what it believes to be a security breach and ordered an alternate test.
This was because Sahouri had unwrapped the booklets to organize and count them days before the exam was to be given and because the MDE wanted more security than having them locked in her office, according to Hartland school officials.
But Sifferman has said no cheating occurred and that Sahouri followed established district procedures, although the district welcomed the new test to ensure the exam's credibility.
A final report on the incident is not expected until sometime after Friday when test taking is completed, according to the MDE.