Under normal circumstances, Dearborn Public Schools Business Services Manager Bob Cipriano would have been in attendance at Monday evening's Board of Education meeting.
But on April 16, news spread through the district that Cipriano, 52, was –allegedly .
On Monday night, board members and employees, some of whom dabbed their eyes with tissues, found the words to express their grief about Cipriano. After a video tribute, several board members and Supt. Brian Whiston made statements about Cipriano and his contributions to the district.
“When I first took this position about four years ago, I was going around to the various department heads to find out more about them and their work,” recalled Whiston. “Bob was telling me how much he loved being here in Dearborn–he had left a lucrative job to come here–but then he told me that he wasn’t very good at math.
“I said ‘Bob, I’m confused. You’re the financial manager.' He just stated laughing. It was his way of pulling my leg,” Whiston added.
Whiston also remembered that when Cipriano was asked to fill in as the acting superintendent, the business services director was the victim of some staff-sponsored ribbing.
“He was nervous, for some reason, that something was going to occur while he was in charge,” he said. “People put their feet on desks, (or) they refused to work for a minute.”
School Board President Mary Lane said officials would be remiss not to remember how the district staff pulled together after receiving the news about Cipriano. District spokesman Dave Mustonen, who often worked closely with Cipriano, handled all press relations after the story broke locally and nationally; the district’s staff of social workers offered employees emotional support; and Cipriano's staff stayed at work, despite being told they could go home.
Lane also said Cipriano, who oversaw a more than $200 million budget, was a reassuring force during a turbulent fiscal storm for the district.
“The words that come to mind are calm, quiet and self-effacing,” she said. “When other school districts worried about their finances, I was thankful we didn’t have to worry about that.”
Through tears, Lane said: “We just didn’t know how short our time would be.”
Whiston and the board also thanked the Wayne RESA, which is stepping in to assist the district’s financial staff, and the City of Dearborn, which has offered assistance and support.
Officials also showed support for Cipriano’s wife, Rose, and son, Salvatore, who were also attacked, and who are both .
Tucker Cipriano, 19, was charged with first-degree murder, felony murder, assault and robbery last week.
There was no mention of that circumstance Monday night.
Visitation for Bob Cipriano will take place Tuesday from 2 p.m.-8 p.m. at in Farmington Hills. His funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at in Farmington Hills.
Dearborn Public Schools administrative offices will be closed 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday to allow employees to attend the funeral.
"(Cipriano) took great pride in the Dearborn family and really made it special,” said Whiston. “He was there for the kids, no matter what. He would argue over $10, but if it was for the kids, he would find a way to make it happen.”
“He is going to be difficult to replace, and he’s in our hearts,” said Whiston. “I don’t know what else I can say except that I love Bob.”