LANSING — State Representatives Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit), Urban Education Reform advisor and chair, and Brian Banks (D-Detroit), chairman of the Detroit Caucus, along with state Senators Morris Hood (D-Detroit) and Bert Johnson (D-Detroit) spoke today about the necessity of including Detroit lawmakers and other local stakeholders in the decision-making process regarding new leadership for Detroit Public Schools (DPS). While the current emergency manager, Darnell Earley, is resigning, his tenure does not officially end until Feb. 29, meaning that invested parties must come to a decision on leadership within the next two weeks. Many are concerned that despite the failure of previous emergency managers, a fifth will be selected to replace Earley, and likely without input from Detroit officials and legislators.
“DPS students and teachers have been completely disenfranchised by perpetual state governance,” said Rep. Gay-Dagnogo. “Appointing a fifth emergency manager without consulting local leadership will only further damage the system, and erode the already fragile trust between Detroiters and this state. We need to advance a transparent and accountable model of solving this crisis, and it is vital that local leadership have a seat at the table.”
“DPS has seen emergency manager after emergency manager, and they have not worked,” said Rep. Banks. “It’s time to return control to our locally elected school board. If partnership is going to be the outcome, there must be input from the beginning from myself and other Detroit lawmakers. The state continuing to make independent decisions regarding DPS will never work if key stakeholders are left out of the conversation.”
Despite seven years of uninterrupted state control, DPS’ deficit has increased dramatically over the last several years, and with the district set to run out of money in April, it is vital that a consensus on leadership be reached quickly. Rumors of Judge Stephen Rhodes’ discussions with the governor about potential options for DPS have sparked concern among community members and legislators alike. Rhodes is most recognized as the man who oversaw Detroit’s declaration and transition out of bankruptcy in 2013.
“For too long, Detroit students and teachers are told ‘just one more,’ over and over again,” said Sen. Johnson. “Just one more emergency manager. Just one more year. Just one more loan. Our community members have lived in a state of perpetual fear that this is the year the state is going to give up on them and their kids. We can’t afford to leave this in state hands any longer. It is time for the governor to let Detroiters be a part of the conversation about the future of Detroit.”
“The use of emergency managers has been a complete failure in DPS, and to appoint another emergency manager would be to condone the perpetuation of that failure,” said Sen. Hood. “We need to return democracy to the system.”
“We cannot and should not be locked out of the leadership selection process, as local leaders best understand the problems our school face, and are best equipped to help transition the district out of the conditions it finds itself in after years of state control,” said Rep. Gay-Dagnogo. “It is vital that we have an immediate meeting, inclusive of all invested stakeholders, to address these concerns and to ensure that the voice of our constituents is heard in the process.”