Flint emergency manager to lead DPS

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News

The emergency manager of Flint will be the next state-appointed leader of the Detroit Public Schools.

Darnell Earley, 63, will replace Jack Martin as DPS emergency manager, a well-placed source familiar with the plan confirmed Monday. Earley did not respond to messages Monday night.

DPS spokesman Steve Wasko did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Officials in Gov. Rick Snyder's office declined to comment on Martin's replacement.

Earley has been emergency manager of Flint since Oct. 1, 2013. He is a former Flint city administrator. Before being named Flint's EM, he was city manager of Saginaw for eight years.

He will become the fourth emergency manager of DPS, which has been under state oversight since March 2009. Martin's term is to end Thursday.

Under emergency managers Robert Bobb, Roy Roberts and Martin, DPS has shed tens of thousands of students, closed dozens of schools and struggled with persistent deficits.

The district had a deficit of more than $300 million when the state took control; DPS recently projected its deficit for 2014-15 would be $164.5 million.

Last fall's preliminary enrollment was 47,238, less than half of the 96,000 students attending DPS when Bobb was appointed.

Earley's appointment comes amid debate over the district's future and proposals to change how the city's schools are governed.

Last month, a group of 31 education, business and community leaders announced a study aimed at developing recommendations to improve Detroit's schools.

In November, Excellent Schools Detroit commissioned a report urging that Mayor Mike Duggan lead a common enrollment system for all city public and charter schools. In August, the group proposed giving the mayor oversight of all public schools in the city.

District stakeholders have expressed support for a new approach. The president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers criticized the decision.

"By the governor appointing a 4th EM shows he obviously has a blatant disregard for the rights of the citizens of Detroit," DFT President Keith Johnson said. "What is the definition of insanity? When you keep doing the same thing over and over and expect different results."

Snyder spokesman Dave Murray said the governor is exploring plans for the district. Snyder is holding a 1:45 p.m. press conference Tuesday at Burton International Academy "to discuss next steps for" DPS, the governor's office said early Tuesday.

"The governor continues to look at options for the Detroit Public Schools as he works with groups convened by the Skillman Foundation to move forward with vital community discussions about a long-term plan to help students and families in the city," Murray said Monday night in an email. "A strong public school district is an import part of Detroit's comeback."