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DPS Board to undo EM damage

PA4 foes take the offensive

By Marcus Wright
Special to the Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — Members of the elected Detroit Public Schools Board plan to undo what Emergency Manager Roy Roberts has done when they convene five o’clock, Aug. 9, at Frederick Douglass Academy.

If the Board of Canvassers meet, as ordered by the Michigan Supreme Court, Aug. 8 to certify the 230,000 petition signatures demanding a vote on Public Act 4 (PA4), the question goes on the November ballot. PA4 and emergency managers, empowered by the law, are immediately suspended.

Detroit Board of Education President LaMar Lemmons II said the first thing the board will do is repeal DPS involvement with the statewide Education Achievement Authority (EAA) which transferred 15 schools—buildings, equipment and federal funds—from the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) to the EAA.

“Creation of the EAA-EAS — i.e., taking 15 schools out of the system and the money as well — is evidence the EM does not have the best interest of our children at heart,” Lemmons said. “The board is outraged and plans to do whatever it needs to do to change it.”

The EAA is a district created by Roberts, the state department of Education, and Eastern Michigan University for “failing” statewide schools, although only DPS schools are involved.

Roberts also serves as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the EAA.

Lemmons said suspension of PA 4 means there is no emergency manager law, therefore no emergency managers or emergency financial managers (the job description under the previous law, Public Act 72) until voters decide in November.

Currently, emergency managers have oversight of public schools in Muskegon Heights, Highland Park and Detroit and the cities of Ecorse, Flint, Benton Harbor and Pontiac.

Opponents and some proponents disagree as to how much longer EMs will stay in office.

Gov. Rick Snyder and Mayor Dave Bing say the old law, PA72, is revived with the suspension of PA4. According to a published statement issued by Snyder, “Once the petition initiative is certified for the statewide ballot, Public Act 72 of 1990 is revived.”

In a released statement, Bing said the Financial Stability Agreement (FSA) between the city and the state remains intact, as does the Financial Advisory Board.

“The city is bound by the FSA to continue to restructure city government and to continue to execute the imposition of new labor terms. The imposition of the City Employment Terms remain valid,” the statement reads.

But Lemmons says there should be no more EMs until further notice.

“The suspension of PA4 does not revive PA72,” Lemmons said. “PA4 repealed PA72. PA72 no longer exists and therefore cannot be revived.”

Attorneys from the Sugar Law Center agree with Lemmons.

Executive Director Tova Perlmutter said the center’s position is the suspension of PA4 does not reinstate PA72.

“PA4 was repealed and the Law Center attorneys maintain it is unheard of that the suspension of a law reinstates (another) law,” Perlmutter said.

Lemmons says it’s important for the board to get clarity on contracts.

Some agreements, he says, can be terminated, such as the agreement with Eastern Michigan University creating the EAA, while other contracts can’t be summarily dismissed.

Lemmons said no one should be uncertain of how the governor will respond.

“We can look forward to Snyder trying to create another law,” Lemmons said. “Democrats may not be able to stop Snyder’s Republicans, but they can stop immediate effect even if they have to walk out.”

Gov. Snyder issued a statement confirming he has the Legislature drafting an emergency law to keep emergency managers in place.

Contact Marcus Wright at marcuswright@michigancitizen.com

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