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4 school districts join lawsuit to stop takeovers

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Four Macomb County school districts announced Tuesday that they will join East Detroit Public Schools in its lawsuit against the state agency empowered to takeover or close low-performing local schools.

School boards for Warren Consolidated Schools, Van Dyke Public Schools, Mount Clemens Community Schools and Roseville Community Schools say that their action is a result of the State Reform Office’s threat to close low-performing schools throughout the state, including those in Macomb County.

“These districts, along with other Macomb districts, have supported (East Detroit Public Schools) in its efforts to resist the state takeover,” the school boards wrote. “In order to maintain existing educational opportunities for their students, these districts had no choice but to take this legal action to block state takeover using unproven and discredited practices.”

Caleb Buhs, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget, which runs the state School Reform Office, declined to comment prior to seeing an official court filing.

Earlier this month, the School Reform Office announced plans to possibly close some of the state’s lowest performing schools at the end of the 2016-17 school year.

The school districts said Tuesday that closing schools is a failed strategy and that they will address student achievement through its work with teachers, parents, community and the Macomb Intermediate School District.

“The communities and Macomb County’s leadership feel strongly that this local control is the best option for students and supports the continued growth of the communities,” the districts wrote.

Earlier this year, East Detroit Public Schools sued the state School Reform Office in the Michigan Court of Claims. The case is pending.

Attorney George Butler who represents East Detroit Public Schools and the four additional school districts, could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday evening.

East Detroit Public Schools previously obtained temporary restraining orders to block the state from appointing a CEO to oversee four of its schools. Last month, Gary Jensen was allowed to begin work with limitations following an agreement reached in Macomb County Circuit Court.

cwilliams@detroitnews.com

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