Vandalism at SL schools linked to athletic director decision

(UPDATED) Two Spring Lake schools were vandalized overnight and police have said the incidents are linked to a school board decision Tuesday denying the athletic director's appeal.
Marie Havenga
Mar 9, 2012


Police responded to a call at Spring Lake High School on 148th Avenue this morning when graffitti was discovered at two of the school entrances, said Sgt. Curt Theune of the Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Department.

A related incident was reported at the school’s central offices on Hammond Street when staff found a brick with a note attached that had been thrown at a window. The multi-page note was attached to the brick by tape and was addressed to “Mr. Furton” (Spring Lake Public Schools Superintendent Dennis Furton), Theune said.

The note basically asked Furton to “come clean” and “admit wrong doings” in relation to the reprimand against Spring Lake Athletic Director Cavin Mohrhardt, Theune said.

As of Thursday afternoon, police had still not made any arrests. Officers said they are investigating the incident and hope to have answers soon.

The reprimand was given after Mohrhardt admitted he made the comment to a Newaygo parent, “I’m not going to kiss your butt,” following a high school basketball game on Jan. 24 between Spring Lake and Newaygo. The comment was made after the parent demanded action for what he claimed were harrassing words from Spring Lake students.

Theune said video from a camera at Spring Lake High School put the time of the vandalism between 2 and 2:15 a.m. today.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call Spring Lake/Ferrysburg police at 842-1889, or Silent Observer at 616-994-7851.



So why is the Spring Lake Police investigating complaints at the Spring Lake High School which is in Spring Lake Twp... or have they taken over for the State Police or Sheriff Department... It seems they have enough to do providing service to Spring Lake Village and Ferrysburg City. Maybe Sgt Theune should stay in his lane or area...


A brick thrown at the window?? Now there's the leadership this school is missing. I wonder what our kids think about that behavior? And who threw the brick? Surely it could not have been done by a "top 2%" parent or "top 2%" role model of our students! Because we are the best....ahem..... I mean we were the best - and now look at what somebody else has done to us - they have made us act like the worst. Do you hear me people? He did that to us - cuz we don't do that to ourselves - right?


I am just wondering if we the community of Spring Lake got enough people to sign a repeal could we get Dennis Furton out of our community? And if not him then is it possible to repeal the puppets that we have in as our Board?


Thank you to the Silent Majority, we finally hear your voices! He must be recalled, it’s our only choice. Somebody else described him best….he’s such a shifty character. I’ve said "HI" to him at least a dozen times over the last 4 years, and you can just tell, he is a very shady man. For 17 years we did everything right and then HE comes along. Oh – and did you hear that now he wants SLPS to teach Spanish? HELLO Mr. DF…do we look Spanish to you?!! How dare you to suggest these crazy new fangled ideas. Don’t you know we’re 98% pure? It is time for the unpure to go. So to the 98%, I say: “pick up your stones and bayonets, form line after line of comrades, and march on toward victory over evil”!


spanish is the language of the ghetto


Actually, a sign of vandalism is a lack of community within the school. I remember going to Spring Lake, not too long ago actually, and I remember feeling a warmth and community within the school. People shouldn't be throwing bricks because it's destructive. I understand the point that they're trying to make, but I still think that they should have done it differently. Do I think that Mr. Furton is right for Spring Lake? Of course not. Not at all, in fact. I've heard of very shifty and suspicious things about him, and I can't say that I like him one bit. However, there are logical ways to deal with this and there are illogical ways. Like Mr. Spock, I have to say that throwing a brick through a window is highly illogical.

However, I agree that Furton needs to make a swift exit out of Spring Lake's doors.


“Actually, a sign of vandalism is a lack of community within the school.”
“And if not him then is it possible to repeal the puppets that we have in as our Board?”
“A brick thrown at the window?? Now there's the leadership this school is missing.”
“now look at what somebody else has done to us - they have made us act like the worst.”

It’s comments like these, from people who get their information from the gossip vine, that are the root of any displaced community pride. Dennis Furton didn’t do anything to you. And if you think he did, or the Board of Education did, then you represent a weak minority in this community.
The entire leadership of Spring Lake Public Schools is dedicated to the students of Spring Lake Public Schools. They all have made tough decisions in the face of tough times in Michigan. Some of these have been unpopular. But, at times, that is the cost of being a strong leader.
Bazz56 posted this on a related article: “If you are not happy or are tired of children go somewhere else do something else. Because we need you focused on engaging our children with learning not sharing your baditude with them.”
I think this person sums it up best. If Spring Lake and its banner school system has evolved past the uninformed, brick-throwing, narrow-minded people who have sounded off lately, then perhaps it’s time for them to leave.
It’s time for the informed, educated people to turn a deaf ear to the negativity and empower Mr. Furton, the administration, and the School Board to continue to make the tough decisions that have helped navigate a STILL great district through choppy waters.


Well, it sure sounds like your in the weak minority of people who control this city. Your right, maybe we should leave, but see what you have left when we do. This community has survived through this recession because we offer something valuable: a small town with abundant natural beauty and an outstanding school system. You say that the school board is dedicated to the students of SLPS, but was bringing in an outside negotiator to negotiate a new contract with the teachers a few years back in the best interest of the students? I'd argue it was in the best interest of you and your select elite, trying to cut costs. You raise our property taxes, making them some of the highest in the state, and then begrudge the funding of our school system. The reason we have placed in the top 2% of the country is because of our teachers, it's as simple as that. Also, it goes without saying that people come to SLPS compared to Grand Haven or other schools because we test better, making us look like the better school on paper. Our school system is our best asset, so why are you convinced that tampering with it is in our best interest? The school board is the one responsible for hoisting that negotiator on Mason. The school board is responsible for the mess this Furton is causing. People of Spring Lake, do you want to see the old Chapter 11, Phoenix Cafe, the video store next to subway, the offices next to Admiral, and the coffee shop next to Wesco filled? This will only happen if we continue to grow, which will be impossible if our school system stagnates. This is not just about our schools, this is about the future of Spring Lake. I don't care who your friends are, stand up and save our community


As the saying goes, "birds of a feather flock together" and I think the kind of "support" (i.e. bricks, vandalism, etc.) demonstrated for Mr. Mohrhardt is likely indicative of who he is close to, as are the juvenile verbal attacks here on the Tribune site articles. Those are things that reveal character, something we don't often talk about anymore.

If those people/acts do not represent him and his values accurately then he should quickly be publicly speaking out against them.


Mr. Zeke - your common sense prevails - thank you.

Coach Mo Supporter

Coach Mo has been a family friend for decades and I can assure you he would never support such vandalism. To link his personal integrity to this is absurd. When MSU fans rioted after their final four loss to Duke was it Tom Izzo's fault. The rioting after the death of MLK went against everything he stood for, surely you wouldn't blame him. I'm not comparing Coach Mo to either of those people, I'm just saying that one man can not be held responsible for the actions of others even if they are supporters of that person.

Perhaps he has spoken out against this, you don't know how he has addressed it to the students at school. I completely disagree with the reprimand, and have heard from reliable sources that this is a personal vendetta on the part of our supt., but following Coach Mo's lead, I'm willing to put it into the past and move on. please do not attempt to slander the name of a man who has dedicated his life to this school and has a history of honesty and integrity.


Very well said - thank you. We need more of this kind of dialogue.


duplicate comment deleted.


Not to be critical, but for future reference slander is verbal defamation, such as someone indicating to you that this is some sort of personal vendetta of the superintendent if that indeed is untrue (which it probably is).

Libel would be a false written statement of defamation, which is what I believe you were trying to insinuate I was making. It would perhaps be libel if I'd actually accused or implicated Coach Mo in any way, but it clearly was not since it was a simple opinion/questioning of the character of his supporters, and a call to publicly distance himself from the vandalism and perhaps try to calm down the angry crowd doing things like this since he obviously has influence with them.

Years or even decades of loyal service do not excuse someone from accountability for their actions. The right decision was clearly made as a unanimous board vote demonstrates, and I would imagine nearly anyone would agree except those with a personal tie to the coach. As he said, and you said, he got what he wanted and now it's time to move on and let it go.

By the way, you end by saying that he has, "a history of honesty and integrity" - well, maybe in your opinion, but not according to his file.


Mr. Mo has always been great to those students. He cares about them, and he shows Laker spirit. He stands up for our students. You may not know Mr. Mo, but for those who do (even ones who have only seen him in the hallway) know that he is a good and decent individual.


My last sentence was intended as humor, but it was a poor choice of words that I cannot edit for some reason. I wish I would have learned more from this whole situation, such as choosing words more carefully and that sometimes you cannot take them back.

I stand by the rest of my comment, but wish I'd have left out the last part. I'm sorry.

Coach Mo Supporter

Thanks for the English lesson, but you know exactly what my intentions were - perhaps I did not pick my words just right (similar to your attempted joke). You implied that Coach Mo has questionable ethics and integrity with your statement that "birds of a feather flock together" in regards to both Coach and the vandal. This is what I was replying to. If you think the phrase "kiss your butt" is that offensive and unprofessional considering the circumstances then that's fine. I respect your opinion and agree that it's time to move on from that debate. What I don't respect is your attempt to tie Coach's ethics to the actions of someone and something that he had nothing to do with. Anyone who knows him knows he would never stand for such behavior and I'm not going to just sit by while someone (who I'm guessing does not personally know him) implies that he would.


They're clearly his supporters. His biggest supporters are likely people his is close to. Doesn't take a genius to do the math.

And you can't assume I knew what you meant. There was great irony in you admitting you listened to slanderous statements about the superintendent while accusing me of slander when you meant libel. You're welcome for the English lesson. Perhaps it will help you communicate more clearly. As I admitted with my own foolish statement, others cannot read our minds so we must be clear and articulate with our words.

Coach Mo Supporter

Your argument is ridiculous. I'd say the chances are pretty good that it was a high school student upset by the events using this as an excuse to do something stupid (however that is only a guess). Even if it wasn't a high school student your claim is still incredibly illogical. On what would be, in my opinion, the extremely slim chance that it was an adult close to Coach (I feel silly even giving that a slim chance) people do things all the time that others close to them don't agree with. Please just acknowledge that while you don't agree with his choice of words you do not know Coach Mo and have no first hand knowledge with which to base an overall opinion of his ethics and morals.


You're wrong about most of your assumptions about me. And I think you're wrong about who did the damage too. I have many reasons to believe these acts were done by an angry adult rather than a teenager, but it's not worth getting into them as I'm quite sure you'll just disagree anyhow.

My argument may be many things but it is not illogical. I think you're too close to the situation to see things clearly. I may not be right, but someone as biased as you clearly are is not in a position to make such a determination.

Mr. Mohrhardt is a good man with strong convictions, I do not doubt that. He clearly has a great deal of support from the community and he has earned it, But I think he made several poor choices beginning with his comment at the sporting event. That doesn't make him a bad man, but being a good man does not make him exempt from having to remain professional at all times while representing the school. And if he sensed there were administrators "out to get him" he should have paid much more careful attention to his word choice,

And my biggest irritation with this whole thing is that he said he was protecting the students. If that was truly necessary in the situation then making an inflammatory comment like he did was not in the best interest of the students safety. There is no getting around that issue. If the students were indeed endangered then he actually increased their level of danger and should be reprimanded for that,

Coach Mo Supporter

Why do you keep going back to the incident in the gym? I've said multiple times that I'm not debating that, I'm debating your comment of "birds of a feather flock together," when you lumped his morals and ethics along with that of the vandal. I have no idea who did the damage. I doubt it, but yes, it is possible that it was an adult. That does not mean Coach supported that or in any way approves of such behavior. But based on your last two paragraphs you do seem to be back peddling from that comment. So which is it? Is he "A good man with strong convictions," who has earned the support of the community OR, as you earlier said, is the vandalism "Likely indicative of who he is close to, as are the juvenile verbal attacks here on the Tribune site articles. Those are things that reveal character."

Also, the only assumption I made about you is that you don't personally know coach. If I'm wrong about that then I apologize but I doubt there is anyone that truly knows him and would not only question his character but do it in a public forum. Although I may disagree with you on the inciident in the gym, I can see your point of view. But you came in here and linked him to the vandal and questioned his overall character. That is far beyond questioning his judgement in the heat of the moment in one incident after a basketball game.

PS- it drives me nuts that the tribune website apparently ignores all formatting on an iPad and produces each of my posts as one huge paragraph.


I don't like the idea of helping your posts look better, but feel obligated to help. (Again, I kid.) The comment section requires HTML formatting, so you have to write < then br then > (if I write it as it should be written it will just make a break and not show you what I'm talking about). Do it twice in a row if you want two breaks like this:

Back To the issue at hand, you're correct that my statements about the coach seem contradictory, however, I stand by both comments. He's clearly a good man with many positive attributes. But he also is pretty old school, indeed doesn't kiss anyone's butt, says what he thinks, and doesn't like to lose. Those don't make him bad, but those aren't always the most desirable characteristics either. I think those character traits are why he got into hot water in the first place, why he fought this so hard and made it a public issue, and why there are so many angry people mad they didn't get their way.

The thinking that people are either all good or all bad is, I think, why many have so venerated Mr. Mohrhardt and so vilified Mr. Furton and so closely linked this issue with him. It creates witch hunt thinking and is toxic to a community.

Coach Mo Supporter

As much as it pains me, I think we're coming closer to agreement (I kid also). I completely agree with your description of Coach. He is all of those things, just as Hickman was before him. I just didn't like what I took as insinuating that his character was no better than to be the type of person that would throw a brick through a window because he didn't get his way. I know you didn't say it in those exact words, but birds of a feather...anyway, even though we may have our disagreements I think what it comes down to is that we both want the best for the school. And I also agree completely with your last paragraph. It's kind of funny because I was just having that a conversation with a colleague today (over a different topic) about how such extreme thinking is dangerous...but a little McCarthyism never hurt anyone...did it? (again...)


I appreciate the dialogue. I also appreciate the way you defended Coach M. I definitely agree we both want what is best for the school. Though I can be harsh at times I actually am very open to changing my mind if I'm wrong and I sense the same from you. Thank you.


I totally agree! In my opinion, the actions of the school board to even carry things this far is worse than anything that the AD said. There are so many more important issues that the school board needs to worry about and focus their time and energy on for the benefit of our students and teachers and our community as a whole! What about the budget cuts to the point that our teachers have to buy supplies out of their own pockets? Why not make the Aquatic Center free to all of our students and teachers? What about the teen drinking and drugs that goes on at the high school? Worry about the important things and choose your battles. What our AD said was so miniscule compared to the big picture. Now there is vandalism to our school, the heart of our community. Grow up and worry about the real issues and let the AD do his job like you should be doing.


Not to be rude, but nearly every line of this comment is littered with ignorance. I don't even know where to begin so I'll just leave it at that.

The school board responded precisely how they should have from every angle. Really, the only people who don't agree are those who are biased by knowing Mr. Mohrhardt personally, or simply do not understand the responsibilities and roles of the superintendent and the school board.


that's okay Zeke - I wasn't writing this for your stamp of approval, so no worries.


I think the police need to question this zeke person.. they seem to know A LOT about the vandalism..


It's called common sense and logic. Those with some of those two things can piece together all the things I've said about the vandalism from the news.


I wasn't trying to be mean. I honestly just think you are ignorant - uninformed, uneducated - about most of the things you wrote about. I think the world would be a better place if people didn't give strong emotional arguments about things they do not understand. I can see how that is offensive, and I am sorry. Just trying to speak my mind.



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