The Detroit School Board has filed a federal lawsuit against Governor Rick Snyder. 


The Detroit school board has filed a federal lawsuit against Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, alleging that his state-appointed emergency managers have failed to adequately address the district’s financial troubles, crumbling school buildings, and academic deficiencies.


The suit seeks class-action status on behalf of roughly 58,000 students who have attended classes in the district since 2011. That total includes students enrolled in the state’s Education Achievement Authority, a state-run district that operates the worst Michigan’s lowest-performing schools.


The suit notes the district’s declining enrollment and an ongoing scandal that has more than a dozen former administrators facing charges in a bribery and kickback scheme. Also named in the suit are at least three of the emergency managers that have run the Detroit schools; the district has been under state oversight since 2009.


“Michigan’s Emergency Manager Law and related practices were used to compromise and damage the quality of education received by all [Detroit public schools] students with life-long consequences in the name of financial urgency,” the lawsuit claims.


The suit also names former Chicago schools CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett. Byrd-Bennett pleaded guilty in 2015 to an indictment charging her with receiving money and benefits from her former employers in exchange for steering no-bid contracts worth more than $23 million to the firms. Federal investigators are also scrutinizing contracts awarded during her time in Detroit, where she worked as chief academic officer.


Snyder’s emergency manager law has faced renewed scrutiny this year as the district teeters on the brink of bankruptcy, and teachers and parents have become more vocal about their distaste for the law.


It is fair to say that state control has been a disaster for the Detroit Public Schools. Every “reform” trick has pulled, and every time the children are the losers.


The text of the plaintiffs’ brief is here. 


The best line in the brief:


The Emergency Manager Law is predicated on the concept that a local financial crisis is due to the inability of local officials to address the problem. In fact, beginning in 1999 the State took over the management of the DPS which was functioning financially ‘in the black’ and with its student body performing at a level on average with the school districts of the entire state of Michigan and, in the seventeen years since, have turned the district into a virtual financial hell-hole. 


The Emergency Managers appointed by the Governor, the suit alleges, drove the district into financial disaster with their profligate spending and unwise decisions.