Published Online: February 9, 2016
Published in Print: February 10, 2016, as Turmoil Over Building Conditions Escalates for Detroit District

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Turmoil Over Building Conditions Escalates for Detroit District

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Criticized for his handling of teacher sickouts and building conditions in Detroit's troubled public schools, Darnell Earley has decided to step down from his job as the state-appointed emergency manager for Michigan's largest district.

Earley told Republican Gov. Rick Snyder last week that his last day would be Feb. 29. Snyder is pushing for the GOP-controlled legislature to provide funding to help close the district's $515 million operating debt and transition the district, which has been under emergency management for nearly seven years, back to some form of local control.

Democratic lawmakers, who oppose the emergency-manager law, had called for Earley's resignation because of the rolling teacher sickouts over complaints about the district's decaying facilities and wrecked finances. The sickouts forced dozens of Detroit schools to close intermittently in recent months.Teachers have also complained that Earley, 64, has not responded quickly enough to their concerns.

More complaints emerged last week when district officials blocked the environmental experts hired by the Detroit Federation of Teachers from investigating possible mold growth, water damage, and other problems.

A district spokeswoman said the union did not provide it with enough notice. She also said allowing the inspectors inside could complicate the district's efforts to make building repairs, which it said it was actively working to address. Repairs already have been made to water-damaged ceiling tiles, broken windows, and peeling paint at some schools.

Meanwhile, the state's Senate education committee last week voted to make it easier to rule that a sickout is an illegal strike and to punish the teachers and districts that participate.

Vol. 35, Issue 20, Pages 4-5

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