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Second restraining order issued to stop CEO in East Detroit schools

East Detroit school and community officials blasted Jensen's appointment in June. They eventually settled on a power-sharing arrangment that limited Jensen's authority.
Kate Wells
Michigan Radio
East Detroit school and community officials blast plans for state CEO takeover.

For the second time, a Macomb County judge has issued a second restraining order to stop a CEO takeover of some East Detroit public schools.

And it’s apparently because of a legal decision made by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office.

Last month, the state school reform office appointed Gary Jensen as CEO, with a mission to turn around four low-performing East Detroit schools.

District officials were already suing to block that appointment, saying that local officials can do a better job with school turnaround, and that a state takeover would cause “irreparable harm.”

They initially got a temporary restraining order from Judge Joseph Toia in Macomb County Circuit Court in late May.

But that expired in mid-June, and Jensen was appointed after the state had the case moved to the Michigan Court of Claims because it named state officials as defendants.

But as the case proceeded, Schuette’s office declared it won’t represent Jensen, because he’s a “non-elected contractual vendor of the State School Reform Office,” according to East Detroit schools’ attorney George Butler.

Butler says that let him take the case back to circuit court—with one crucial change.

“I re-filed the claim solely and exclusively against the CEO, who we now knew to be Mr. Jensen,” he said.

The SSRO is now directly under Governor Snyder’s control, after he signed a controversial executive order transferring it from the Michigan of Education to the Department of Management, Technology and Budget.

A DTMB spokesman says it’s now considering “appropriate next steps” with the Attorney General’s office.

A hearing on the restraining order is scheduled for July 18 in Macomb Circuit Court.

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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