Mon. Dec 4th, 2023

ZEELAND, MI – Zeeland Public Schools Superintendent Calvin De Kuiper has announced he will retire at the end of the school year.

De Kuiper had initially planned to retire in 2020, but postponed his plans with the emergence of the novel coronavirus in March, the superintendent wrote in a Feb. 15 announcement. However, De Kuiper said he is now confident the district is equipped navigate the pandemic without him.

De Kuiper, who has been at the helm of the district for nine years, will retire on June 30, 2021. He has devoted 39 years to educating students.

“I feel fortunate to have spent the final years of my professional career with ZPS, and will forever consider Zeeland our home town,” De Kuiper wrote. “It is without doubt, the perfect place to raise a family, build lifelong friendships, and is a remarkable place to live, work and play.”

The superintendent plans to spend the next four months helping the district prepare for next fall and developing Zeeland’s long-term plans, he said.

Under De Kuiper’s leadership, Zeeland enrollment has increased by over 730 students. He led the district through the passage of a $53.5 million bond proposal in 2015, which addressed security issues, enrollment growth and technology needs.

He has made several administrative hires to expand curriculum and special education programming at Zeeland, including the hiring of assistant superintendent of curriculum Brandi Mendham in 2014 and assistant superintendent of special education Holly Boehle.

School board president Tom DenHerder thanked De Kuiper for his years of service in a statement on behalf of the Zeeland Board of Education.

“He has a tremendous heart for our schools, people and the Zeeland community,” DenHerder wrote. “We will miss his positive approach to leadership and education. We have all grown professionally and personally having worked alongside him over the last nine years. We wish him the very best in his retirement.”

The school board will conduct a superintendent search with the help of consultant and former Allegan County superintendent Mark Dobias, who works with the Michigan Association of School Boards to conduct executive searches.

The school board will develop a superintendent transition plan in the coming days, according to the news release. The district has roughly 6,000 students enrolled this academic year.

There will not be a traditional community retirement event due to COVID-19, but community members can send messages to De Kuiper via mail at the ZPS Administration Office, 183 W. Roosevelt Avenue, or via email at

De Kuiper thanked the school board, staff, community and students for his past nine years with the district. Prior to joining Zeeland, he spent 10 years as superintendent of Ludington Area Schools, according to a district news release.

“Moving to Zeeland allowed me and my wife Beth to remain closely connected to our growing children and extended family,” he wrote. “West Michigan instantly became our home.”

De Kuiper said his time in retirement will be spent with friends and family, including a new grandson. He will also spend time enjoying Lake Michigan and his hobbies, triathlons and surfing.

“Although my official last day as your superintendent will be June 30, I will always remain a steadfast advocate for education and a proud supporter of Zeeland Public Schools and our community.”

Several other school districts in Michigan are currently searching for a new superintendent following a wave of administrative retirements this fall, particularly in West Michigan.

RELATED: Grand Rapids area hit by wave of school superintendent retirements amid COVID-19

De Kuiper is the fifth superintendent in Ottawa County alone to retire amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

That list includes Holland Public Schools Superintendent Brian Davis, Ottawa Area Intermediate School District Superintendent Pete Haines, West Ottawa Public Schools Superintendent Thomas K. Martin and Jenison Public Schools Superintendent Tom TenBrink.

Kent Intermediate School District Superintendent Ron Caniff retired on Dec. 31 and Kentwood Superintendent Michael Zoerhoff will retire on June 30.

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87 infected in new coronavirus outbreaks at 20 schools, says Michigan’s Feb. 15 school outbreak report

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By senior