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Detroit School Board Votes to Pull Out of State-Run Authority

Guest blog post by Jaclyn Zubrzycki @jzubrzycki

UPDATED

After Michiganers voted last week to repeal the state's emergency manager law, the Detroit Board of Education voted on Tuesday to end the school system's contract with Eastern Michigan University and withdraw from the state-run Education Achievement Authority, which currently runs 15 schools, all in the city of Detroit.

Nothing's changed yet in the city's public schools or in the EAA. Steve Wasko, the assistant superintendent for community relations with the Detroit Public Schools, said that the vote count had not been certified, and that the district was operating under a judge's ruling from this August that said that the emergency manager would remain in place. Exactly what happens even if the vote is certified is still not entirely clear, as the State EdWatch blog described earlier this fall.

The Huffington Post spoke with board member Elena Herrada about the board's vote earlier this week. She had harsh words about the EAA: "It's very, very insidious. It is basically a Jim Crow district."

Mr. Wasko said that disbanding the contract that created the EAA would require a vote of the EAA's executive board. He said that disrupting the EAA's efforts either this winter or after only a year of operation would be "highly disruptive" for the 10,000 students the authority serves.

In another move to remove the district from emergency management, a member of nearby Highland Park's school board has filed a lawsuit requesting that Roy Roberts be removed from his position as emergency manager. The Highland Park school district was also under the emergency manager's authority. Roberts has run afoul of the Detroit teachers' union in the past.

Mr. Wasko again said that the law had not yet changed. "A judge has ruled that PA 72 is in effect and, as such, Mr. Roberts serves as the emergency financial manager," he said in an email. He said that Mr. Roberts had sent two letters attempting to set up meetings with the board, which were declined.

There was talk of Mr. Roberts stepping down earlier this year, before the lawsuit.

Detroit school board members had not returned emails as of press time. A separate lawsuit, which seeks to remove the majority of the school board's members, is on hold until early January. Check out the Detroit Free Press's reporting for a bit more detail.

Whew. Here is some background on some other state-run districts. And here's an article from when state first decided to take over the Detroit district.

UPDATED
The suit against Roberts was denied this afternoon. Here's the court order, which says that Roberts lawfully holds office.

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