Detroit School Board In Exile: A Partial Victory In Court

The Board went to court today with our two fearless lawyers, Buck Davis and Cynthia Heenan. They only recently received the right to payment for representing us and we speak with them frequently, especially on Sundays. The Board members do not get paid and meet very often and are in constant communication with our community members and teachers. Students and teachers and parents bring problems they cannot address because of the Emergency Manager imposition, which has dismantled most of the avenues of the most simple issues and redress. Suspensions, teacher evaluations, seniority, all have been destabilized by the State’s imposition of the little emergency manager.

The District has countless lawyers who work hours all day while we are at work and at meetings finding ways to defend their behavior, which is criminal in so many ways. Finding ways to keep the general public from following money ( refusal to share information about district expenditures, vis a vis People Soft, which itemizes every dime).

The closing of Detroit Day School for the Deaf, even though it is funded through federal funds and is the only school deaf student had; it remains office space to administrators, as if there is not sufficient empty space in Detroit; the refusal to hold suspension and expulsion hearings in the language of the people affected; the refusal to grant the elected school board a modicum of respect, such as use of school buildings for our meetings.

But a major victory for democracy today was the judge’s interpretation and reading of PA 4, PA72 and whatever other numbers are excuses for denying the public any input into our own lives- is the library commissioner issue. Little EM named his crony, Judge Edward Thomas to a new appointment despite the fact that the school board has the right and responsibility to name commissioners. Edwards is controversial for a back door appointment of a job for his daughter without approval of the Library Commission and when confronted by honest commissioners, had to remove her from the $60,000. clerk position with an open ended expense account. There was a great deal of controversy around this appointment, and when Roy Roberts reappointed Judge Thomas to another term, it revealed a corrupt side nof him that many had not seen before. Those under Emergency Managers live daily with the lack of accountability and arrogance of one person in charge of everything, a scenario which would corrupt anyone. Indeed, who else would want such a position?

We may have only until March 28th to hold our elected positions, but no one is guaranteed any more than this now, anyway. Teachers live with arbitrary evaluations and the once most stable positions no longer promise any future. The general public now knows that even if a law is repealed, if Big Money wants that law, it stays. Like Juneteenth in Texas, the Emergency Manager stays in Detroit. We are a metaphor for Detroit students; the District has all the wealth to fight us and we have to go to court and be prepared the same day they do, despite their outspending us exponentially. Detroit students face the same inequity with their suburban counterparts.

We were sued by the Attorney General for being elected. We prevailed, but it was a bizarre abuse of power. We are now facing another long night of Emergency Manager corruption, but we will remain vigilant and fight for equal education for Detroit students to the bitter end. As Helen Moore reminds us, no matter what they do, we keep fighting. A debt of gratitude is owed to her and the many other warriors for DPS students. No matter what comes, we will confront corruption and injustice.