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Hamtramck school board member sues over removal

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

The Hamtramck Public Schools Board of Education is being sued after a member says he was wrongly removed amid allegations about his residency.

The group last month vacated a seat on the panel filled by Mohammad Huda, who in November 2014 was elected to a six-year term, according to the lawsuit filed Friday in Wayne County Circuit Court.

Board officials have claimed Huda lives outside the district, but the court document indicates that the Michigan Bureau of Elections and Hamtramck city clerk both dismissed challenges to his residency last year. Gov. Rick Snyder’s office also recently declined a request to oust him, citing state law.

“On the advice of the Attorney General, we will not (be) pursuing a removal action because, if all the allegations you provided are true, then Mr. Huda does not reside in the school district and thus has voluntarily vacated his seat effective immediately,” deputy legal counsel Travis Weber wrote in a letter to Superintendent Thomas Niczay.

Based on that finding, the board voted Jan. 13 to declare the seat vacant, according to the resolution included in the filing Friday.

But Mark Brewer, Huda’s attorney, said his client has lived in Hamtramck since June 2014 and would have been unable to vote in the general election there last fall if he resided elsewhere.

“Three independent entities refused to take any action and the board simply does not have the authority to do this,” Brewer said, adding that members are legally required to pursue a court action to boot Huda.

Reached Friday night, school board President Magdalena Srodek referred questions to the superintendent.

Niczay did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Lawyers representing the district could not be reached Friday.

Meanwhile, the situation has left Huda “very upset,” Brewer said. “He ran for office. He was elected to serve the citizens of Hamtramck. He wants to serve them.”

While there is not yet any clear proof board members targeted Huda, who is Muslim, for his faith, Brewer said: “We will investigate whether there was ethnic, religious or political discrimination.”