Detroit — A Wayne County judge will decide later this month whether to hold Emergency Financial Manager Roy Roberts in contempt of court for allegedly violating an order that requires Roberts to cede some of his authority over Detroit Public Schools to its Board of Education.
Judge Annette Berry heard arguments Tuesday morning from board attorneys who alleged Roberts has prohibited staff from appearing before the board or meeting with interim superintendent John Telford. They also contended that Roderick Grimes, chief of police for DPS Public Safety, was directed by Roberts not to follow orders from Telford without approval.
Roberts' attorneys denied the accusations, telling the judge that Roberts has followed her Feb. 20 order that he must consult with the board on specific issues such as academics, school security and temporary school closings until the state's new EM law takes effect on March 28.
With 15 days left under Public Act 72, the state's older emergency financial manager law, board attorney Hugh Davis told the judge Tuesday that he and his clients are resigned to the fact that Roberts will not relinquish control of the schools or the academic process, adding that Roberts and the board "live on two different planets" when it comes to this case.
"I know we have two weeks left but we may be engaged in a historic process….My client wants on the record what they tried to do," he said.
Roberts' attorney, John D. Pirich, told the judge that every person asked to be at board meetings by the board or Telford was in fact in attendance. Pirich denied allegations that Roberts has ordered staff not to meet with the board or Telford.
"We're frustrated that we are even here today. The futility of it… Is it to get publicity?" Pirich said.
Berry ordered both parties to file briefs in the case next week. She said she will issue a written opinion at a later time.