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DPS board moves to repair EM damage

By Zenobia Jeffries
The Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — In a special meeting Nov. 13, the Detroit Board of Education voted unanimously to end the district’s contract with the Educational Achievement Authority and passed other measures as they attempt to recover from more than a decade of state control under emergency management.

Gov. Rick Snyder and his EM Roy Roberts created the EAA Board in August 2011, through an agreement with Eastern Michigan University. The EAA never had legislative approval. Snyder and Roberts hailed the EAA as a state wide district, but took only Detroit buildings, students and resources to create the special district.

“It’s a Jim Crow district,” Board Member Elena Herrada said. “We never thought we would live to see the day we are witnessing. We have a separate and unequal district, the EAA.”

The EAA took those schools consistently performing in the lowest five percent.

“Roy Roberts has refused to show us the contracts with EAA,” Board President Lamar Lemmons said. “We have not been privy to the contract, but he said DPS received one dollar for the buildings and contents, all the contents even the smart boards.”

Lemmons said the EAA was created in a conflict of interest. Roberts was in charge of DPS while creating and participating as a board member of the EAA.

“One master controls the EM and the EAA. He set us up for failure.” Lemmons said. “We sent him a letter last September and asked him how can he be the contactor and the contractee?”

The board also eliminated Robert’s controversial teacher evaluation process, canceled the initiated contract with Teach for America effective the end of the semester; canceled the contract for the Detroit Parent Network; passed a resolution to place on the August primary ballot a proposal limiting all “locally generated revenue” to be spent by the duly democratically elected Board;” and voted to downsize the “bloated” administration.

All but one measure was passed unanimously and each measure received a loud round of applause from the audience.

Lemmons said each measure was contingent upon “certification of the recent election repealing Public Act 4, the emergency manager law and judicial approval.”

“We have to be very deliberate in how we proceed,” Lemmons said. He added that the actions would not take place until the 2012-13 school year has ended. “We do not want to disrupt the kids …before the end of the school year.”

Forced to meet in the Detroit Public Library because Roberts — who is waiting for the election results to be certified before vacating his post — denied the board access to any school building. Despite the statewide vote defeating PA4, Snyder has encouraged the emergency managers to stay on under PA 72.

Two law suits are pending in the courts, one by the city of Flint and one by the Sugar Law Center. Both suits cite Michigan law (MCL 8.4) which states when one law supersedes another, the one superseded cannot be revived. PA4 repealed PA 72.

Republican pressure on the district continues. The seven DPS board members were ordered to appear in courtroom of Third Court Judge John Gillis on Nov. 14.

Attorney General Bill Schuette is suing. He wants DPS board members removed from office. Shuette is arguing that since the population of the district has fallen below 100,000, DPS is not entitled to elect by district, but can only have at-large members. The judge recused himself saying he had a brother who was a teacher, and postponed the case until January 2013.

Contact Zenobia Jeffries at zjeffries@michigancitizen.com

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