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Detroit Moves on Authority Question, Teachers' Contract

Robert C. Bobb, emergency financial manager of Detroit's schools, has a few things to smile about this holiday week.

A judge is scheduled to take up the long-simmering tension between Bobb and members of the school board, who say Bobb has overstepped the bounds of his authority as emergency financial manager by making decisions about academic policy.

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Wendy Baxter ordered the school board to show up in court Jan. 8 with evidence that Bobb has overstepped his bounds. Bobb has been supported so far in his actions by Michigan's governor, who appointed him, as well as its attorney general and state education superintendent.

Bobb recently asked the state legislature to approve legislation that would allow him to take over both academics and finances.

UPDATE: Michigan's legislature will take up the Detroit issue in a hearing starting January 14, state Rep. Tim Melton told me on a conference call this afternoon.

In other news, the school district and the Detroit Federation of Teachers came to agreement over the weekend on a contract the deficit-ridden district hopes will save it $100 million over the next three years.

But as my colleague Steve Sawchuk mentioned last week, some teachers are unhappy with the deal and want to oust Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson, who told local newspapers the dissidents represent a minority and would have an uphill battle attempting to overthrow him. You can see more from him in a new post this morning on our Teacher Beat blog.

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