Detroit to Co-Manage Embattled Michigan District
Highland Park, a 970-student district near Detroit that was taken over by a state-appointed emergency manager earlier this year, will be co-managed for the next few months by the Detroit Public Schools, which is itself under emergency management.
The agreement will last for the remainder of the school year, according to a press release from the state. Detroit schools will handle personnel matters for Highland Park, while an emergency manager will attempt to solve Highland Park's financial problems. The district is facing a deficit of $11 million, and had to get an advance from the state to make a recent payroll.
"Our goal is to ensure that students face as little disruption as possible," said Jack Martin, the Highland Park emergency financial manager, in the press release.
An article in the Detroit Free Press noted that at least one member of the Highland Park school board, Robert Davis, has a problem with this plan. "It's an absolute joke," Davis told the paper.
Earlier this year, Davis filed a suit against the state saying that Martin's appointment to oversee the district was made in violation of the state's open-meeting laws. A judge agreed, and Martin was asked to step down temporarily, but was reappointed on Friday.
In the meantime, Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation that will allow Highland Park students to leave the school system for neighboring districts or charter schools that have room to enroll them. Districts or charter schools that take in Highland Park students will receive a per pupil tuition of $4,000 to help defray costs. If student remain in Highland Park, Detroit schools will receive the money. The state government has compiled a list of schools with openings in a website devoted to the school district's emergency.