The board of Detroit Public Schools last week approved several measures in a bid to regain control over the district last week after the suspension of Michigan’s emergency management law.
State Attorney General Bill Schuette, meanwhile, filed a lawsuit Thursday in the Third Circuit Court that asked to halt all action by the board and remove seven of its 11 members.
In his complaint, Schuette said the seven hold the office illegally because they were elected in separate districts instead of as at-large members.
At its first meeting in years, the board last week hired a new superintendent, filed a lawsuit against the state, fired the district’s longtime spokesman and rescinded a move to transfer control of the worst-performing schools to a new state-controlled entity called the Educational Achievement Authority.
The board’s lawsuit asks the state for $200 million for money lost between 1999 and 2005, the years that the state first controlled the district. It also voted to assign teachers to schools based on seniority, not performance review.
The votes came a week after a Michigan Supreme Court ruling led to the suspension of Public Act 4, which broadened the emergency manager’s powers to include both finances and academics of a state-controlled school district. The suspension triggered an automatic revival of the former EM law, which allowed EMs to control only the fiscal side.
Ahead of the board’s meeting, a Wayne County circuit court judge Tuesday ruled that the DPS board does have authority over academic issues and that its emergency manager, Roy Roberts, has control over financial issues. The judge said he would settle disputes between the parties on a case-by-case basis if necessary.
Gov. Rick Snyder put out a statement supporting Schuette’s lawsuit. “Under Roy Roberts, DPS has made significant strides with a strong turnaround plan underway,” Snyder said. “And the Educational Achievement Authority is a groundbreaking approach to help provide the kids in these targeted, challenged schools with the educational opportunities they need and deserve.”
The state declared DPS to be in a state of fiscal emergency in 2009.