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Fight between Flint school board members, ex-superintendent must go to arbitration, court rules

Judge's gavel with books on a desk

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Friday that individual members of the Flint school board can invoke an arbitration clause to shield themselves against a lawsuit filed by a former superintendent.

It was an acrimonious split between former Superintendent Anita Steward and the Flint Community Schools Board of Education. A lawsuit filed by Steward against the district in 2021 also named four individual school board members who, she alleged, interfered with daily school operations and created a hostile work environment that made it impossible for her to do her job.

At that point, the district had churned through six superintendents in less than a decade.

A lower court ruled that Steward could sue the district, but not the individual board members. But a three-judge appeals court panel unanimously held “the obligation to arbitrate disputes in this case extends to the board members as well as the school district they were elected to represent.”

The decision could be appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.