School & District Management

Detroit Board Sues to Stop High School Turnaround Plan

By Dakarai I. Aarons — July 17, 2009 1 min read
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A plan to turn over management of three-fourths of Detroit’s high schools to private managers hit a snag this week.

Just days after Detroit Public Schools leader Robert C. Bobb announced his plan to bring in EdisonLearning, EdWorks, the Institute for Student Achievement and the Model Secondary Schools Project to run 17 high schools, the Detroit school board voted to sue Bobb, saying he’s overstepped his authority as the emergency financial manager.

“It was a growing frustration on the part of many board members,” board member Anthony Adams told me this week. “There’s been a total lack of communication between his office and the board on academic policy in the district.”

The board and Bobb have been at odds over what his role is. Bobb, who was appointed this spring by Gov. Jennifer Granholm, has sole authority over contracts in the district for his one-year term.

Adams and Keith Johnson, the president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, also raised concerns about the companies being hired, especially EdisonLearning, which they say has not improved education in places like Philadelphia. (Studies on the efficacy of the private management have been mixed.)

Bobb and Granholm say he is operating within his authority and should not be micromanaged by the board.

“The board’s attempt to distract and confuse the public by claiming that we are privatizing schools is disingenuous. We are not privatizing these schools. We are not creating a charter district,” Bobb said in an editorial column yesterday’s Detroit News. “The district has partners working with DPS principals, teachers and parents to bring the best national models of school improvement to Detroit families.”

Keep your eyes peeled for more on this, and other challenges in Detroit schools in the next issue of Education Week, hitting a mailbox near you August 12.

A version of this news article first appeared in the High School Connections blog.