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Judge: Schools can go to EAA, but Detroit school board regains academic control

A Wayne County judge ruled Tuesday that the Education Achievement Authority can launch as scheduled.

That statewide district for the lowest-achieving schools is set to open with 15 former Detroit Public schools next month. The elected Detroit school board had voted to reverse that decision.

The board said it was invalid because the district’s former emergency manager, Roy Roberts, made it—and the state’s emergency manager law is now suspended.

But Judge Stephen Murphy ruled all decisions Roberts made before that happened stand for now. 

Spokesman Steve Wasko says Murphy also ruled that Roberts also retains control over the district’s finances.

“The judge agreed that the former fiscal responsibility act, the so-called Public Act 72 of 1990, does go back into effect,” Wasko said. “And that of course ensures that Mr. Roberts continues not as emergency manager, but as emergency financial manager.”

But Murphy ruled the Detroit school board has control over the district’s academics, and indicated he’ll decide any disagreements over whether a particular decision is academic or financial “on a case-by-case basis.”

“If there’s any dispute over which side of the line a particular decision falls on, we go back to Judge Murphy,” said George Washing, an attorney for the board.

This isn’t the only legal challenge facing the Detroit School Board as it tries to reclaim some power.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is also suing to remove seven school board members, and block any of the board’s future actions.

Arguments in that case are set for later this month.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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