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DPS votes to oust emergency manager, court to decide

Oct 1, 2014

Jack Martin was appointed Detroit Public Schools' emergency manager in July 2013.
Credit Detroit Public Schools

Detroit City Council recently voted to strip Kevyn Orr of most of his powers as the city's emergency manager. Now, the Detroit Public School Board is hoping to oust their emergency manager as well.

Under Michigan's current emergency manager law, local officials can vote to strip EMs of their power with a two-thirds vote after 18 months.

The Detroit school board voted Monday evening with the belief that Jack Martin’s tenure as emergency manager would end this week.

More from the Detroit Free Press:

Members of the Detroit Public Schools Board voted tonight to get rid of the district's emergency manager during a meeting centered on one theme — the feeling that state control is ruining the city's school system.

It was the third time school that board members have voted out Jack Martin, but this time the vote coincided with what many members believe to be his last day in office under law.

The board argues that the beginning of Martin's tenure should be counted when the state's new emergency manager law went into effect - March 27, 2013.  However, Martin was appointed by Gov. Snyder on July 15, 2013. His contract can be viewed here.

A hearing to decide the case is set for today in Ingham County Circuit Court.

Since 2009 a state appointed emergency manager has worked with DPS:

  • Robert Bobb 2009-2011
  • Roy Roberts 2011-2013
  • Jack Martin - 2013-present

The day of Martin's appointment, Fox 2 in Detroit reported on the governor's confidence in the DPS alumnus.

"He was the chief financial officer at the U.S. Department of Education," the governor said. "He helped us in Highland Park Schools, and he's been helping us as chief financial officer for the City of Detroit."

According to Martin's DPS bio he's a native Detroiter, a certified public accountant with more than 40 years of experience, and has served under three U.S. Presidents (George H.W Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush).

However, some board members believe their vote is a first step to lessen the burden of a state-controlled school system that has been under emergency management since 2009 with a current deficit of $127 million, originally projected to be $120.3 million.

Others have a strong opinion of what DPS will look like in the days ahead.

The court will decide whether or not the board's vote will have an immediate effect. Martin’s attorneys and state officials believe he will serve until January.  

Again, from the Detroit Free Press:

Attorneys for Martin disagree [with the board]. They argued in court filings that the board couldn't remove Martin until January, 18 months after his July 2013 appointment. State officials have also said they believe Martin's tenure will run through January. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday in Ingham County Circuit Court.

In the 2008 "emergency finding" letter from State Superintendent Michael Flanagan to the Detroit Public Schools Board of Education, he wrote the Detroit Public School Board had a history fiscal failures citing a $112.8 million deficit at that time. 

“…it was clear that the Plan submitted was unacceptable due to lack of data integrity and the fact that little action had been taken to implement any of the budget reduction measures outlined in the Plan. This was just one in a series of previous instances in which District officials, both the administration and the Board, failed to take necessary action to address the District’s fiscal problems.”

-Tifini Kamara, Michigan Radio Newsroom