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AG Schuette says “new district” status can’t prevent Detroit schools from being closed

Sep 28, 2016

Looks like we've got another tug of war between Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette.

At stake? Whether failing schools within the new Detroit Public Schools Community District can be shut down at the end of this school year.

Today, Attorney General Bill Schuette issued his legal opinion on the matter and Rick Pluta, Michigan Radio’s Lansing Bureau Chief, joined us to explain what went down.

It starts with the fact that the Detroit Public Schools Community District is a new legal entity.

“It was created to focus on teaching and students while the old Detroit Public School District exists basically on paper to collect taxes and pay debts,” Pluta said.

That led to a potential unintended consequence:

“The Snyder administration has a legal opinion written by an outside law firm that says, ‘Because the district is new, there’s no three-year look-back on how well the schools are performing. This is a new legal entity and nothing can be done to it in that respect for another three years,’” Pluta said.

“The legislature’s Republican leaders – Senate majority leader Arlan Meekhof and House Speaker Kevin Cotter – cried foul, said, ‘That’s not what we intended when they passed this law.’”

As a result, Attorney General Bill Schuette issued his opinion. He said schools are subject to this law if they have been low-performing for three years.

That opinion is binding, but it’s possible a legal battle will come as the Detroit Community Schools and Gov. Snyder’s administration examine the opinion.

For the full conversation, listen above.

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