Transparency issues for new state school district

Oct 26, 2011

The new statewide school system for the lowest-performing 5% of Michigan schools faces growing criticism over transparency.

The Education Achievement Authority will formally start with a few Detroit schools in 2012. That means the district doesn’t have any students or any money yet—except for private donations.

The Detroit Free Press reports that many of those donations are anonymous, and Governor Snyder’s spokeswoman said the state will defend donors’ “privacy.”

Detroit Federation of Teachers Executive Vice President Mark O’Keefe said that raises the issue of whether those donors could benefit from EAA deals down the road.

“The only way to get the confidence of the public in this new district is to have full disclosure," O'Keefe added.

The EAA has also faced criticism for their meetings.

The Executive Committee has held emergency meetings at 7:30 am. That, and other procedural issues—including the use of closed sessions--have led to accusations the EAA is subverting the spirit of the state’s Open Meetings Act.

But EAA head and Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts said the board is aiming to be transparent.

“If any Open Meetings Act violation did occur, it was unintentional,” Roberts said during a meeting this week. “The Executive Committee is committed complying with the law in every respect in the conduct of its business.”