Michigan Attorney General files suit to remove 7 Detroit School Board members

Aug 9, 2012

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says he will ask a circuit court judge to order the removal of seven members of the Detroit Public Schools Board of Education, because they were illegally elected - and seek an injunction to halt future Board action.

From the state's press release:                                             

"Standing up for Detroit school children
A.G. takes legal action to remove seven Detroit School Board members who were elected in violation of state law, halt future board actions

DETROIT - Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that his office has filed a Complaint for Quo Warranto in Detroit’s Third Circuit Court against the 11 members of the Detroit Public Schools Board of Education seeking the removal of seven members, as well as an injunction to halt future Board action.  Seven board members currently hold office illegally because they were elected in separate districts, instead of as at-large members chosen by voters across the school district, as required by state law.

“For far too long, the children of Detroit have received a second-class education,” said Schuette.  “It’s time to improve their quality of education, and that starts at the top.  My job as Attorney General is to ensure state law is followed and that our children get the quality education they were promised by our Michigan Constitution.”

Under Michigan’s Revised School Code, only a first class school district may elect members by districts. The Detroit Public School system ceased to be a first class school district in September of 2008, as former Attorney General Mike Cox opined in OAG No 7234, issued July 20, 2009.  However, since that opinion was issued, the Detroit Board of Education has continued to operate as a first class school district, conducting its November 2011 Board elections in violation of state law. Because seven members are holding office illegally, Schuette determined it was necessary and appropriate to file the action seeking their removal from office. 

Schuette noted the action is necessary to guarantee that, as our Michigan Constitution requires, “schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged” (Mich. Const, Art VIII, sec 1). 

“We applaud the Attorney General for his leadership and stand with him on this critical issue,” said Gov. Rick Snyder. “Under Roy Roberts, DPS has made significant strides with a strong turnaround plan underway. And the Educational Achievement Authority is a groundbreaking approach to help provide the kids in these targeted, challenged schools with the educational opportunities they need and deserve. Our focus and priority must be on these kids as they prepare to start the school year in less than a month.”

According to the complaint filed by Schuette today:

In the Detroit Public School District, this has required extraordinary action by the State including the appointment of an emergency financial manager to help assure the orderly and efficient provision of quality educational services.  That State initiative is in jeopardy because the locally elected School Board is illegally constituted and operating in contravention of law, as outlined below.   The Attorney General brings this action to assure a good education is provided for Detroit’s student population, both in the upcoming school year soon to start and in ensuing years. (pp. 1-2)"