- Rally at DPS HQ held Nov. 12
- Lawsuit filed by Robert Davis
- Protesters go to Lansing to stop EAA law
By Diane Bukowski
November 15, 2012
DETROIT – Detroiters took both direct and legal action this week to remove Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts and the state’s other EM’s, in the wake of the defeat of Public Act 4.
On Nov. 12, community and religious leaders, teachers, parents and school board members came out in pouring rain to deliver notices of eviction to Roberts at his offices on the 14thfloor of the Fisher Building.
“We are going to drive him away,” Detroit Board of Education member David Murray declared. “We want to put an end to the criminalization of our children. The people overwhelmingly said Nov. 6 that we do not want Public Act 4, but Roberts and others are determined to continue to oppress our people. They are trying to lock our children out of leadership roles for the future.”
Rev. David Bullock, chair of Michigan Rainbow PUSH, said, “It is a travesty of justice that despite the resounding repeal of Public Act 4, Mr. Roberts and emergency managers around the state remain in office. All emergency managers should be given notice by Gov. Rick Snyder to step down. If we have to march again on Snyder’s house, we will.”
Bullock said it is their position that Public Act 72, a limited version of PA 4 which does not grant administrative duties to “emergency financial managers,” is no longer on the books either. State Attorney General Bill Schuette earlier issued a non-binding opinion that it is in place.
“If the EM’s need help moving,” Bullock said, “we are ready, willing and able to bring moving trucks and deliver boxes and tape to pack their things. We have plenty of unemployed people in the state that we can pay to carry out this job.”
The school district’s offices were closed for half a day in observance of Veteran’s Day, but ralliers, who kept growing in numbers, marched up to the 14th floor of the building and posted eviction notices all over the walls and reception window gate.
They listened to community leaders including Elder Helen Moore, who called on them to attend a Jan. 29 congressional hearing in Washington, D.C. on the de-funding and disenfranchisement of majority-Black school districts across the country.
Last December, U.S. Representative John Conyers Jr. sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to open an investigation of federal Voting Rights Act violations by state officials enforcing PA 4. They have concentrated almost exclusively on the state’s majority-Black cities.
Holder never sent a response. Neither President Barack Obama nor other top leaders of the Democratic Party have ever weighed in on the validity of Public Act 4.
On the legal front, Board President Lamar Lemmons Jr. said the $500.5 million Proposal S bond funds are still under Roberts’ control after voters re-affirmed the proposal Nov. 6. He said the board would be suing to remove Roberts. Roberts continues to prevent the board from meeting on DPS premises, claiming he is still in charge of financial affairs under PA 72.
Confirmation of such a lawsuit was not available at press time. But meanwhile, Robert Davis, the Highland Park school board member who has filed numerous lawsuits related to Public Act 4, filed an emergency petition with the State Court of Appeals to remove Roberts and to find that PA 72 is no longer in effect with regard to other EM’s, according to published reports.
The State’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young has already opined on that issue.
During a hearing July 25 on whether to put a referendum to repeal Public Act 4 on the ballot, Young read into the record MCL 8.4, which says, “Whenever a statute, or any part thereof shall be repealed by a subsequent statute, such statute, or any part thereof, so repealed, shall not be revived by the repeal of such subsequent repealing statute.”
Also pending is the continuation of a lawsuit filed by the school board’s attorney George Washington earlier against Roberts after PA 4 was certified for the ballot Aug. 8. The suit has been transferred to Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Annette Berry, from Judge John Murphy, according to attorney Hugh “Buck” Davis.
Murphy ruled that PA 72 was still in effect after the referendum to repeal Public Act 4 was certified for the November ballot Aug. 8. But he said that if PA 4 was repealed, he would entertain motions to allow the board to take back 15 Detroit Public Schools which were transferred into a state-run “Educational Achievement Authority” district for the five percent of the state’s “lowest-performing schools,” all in Detroit.
On the evening of Nov. 13, the school board again voted to restore the EAA schools, during a crowded meeting.
Many of those who rallied at the DPS headquarters Nov. 12 boarded a bus to Lansing Nov. 13 for a House Education Committee meeting on HB 6004, which would enshrine the EAA in state law.