Amid Controversy, Detroit Schools Emergency Manager to Resign

By Corey Mitchell — February 02, 2016 2 min read
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The emergency manager of the Detroit schools will resign this month amid growing concerns over his job performance and the direction of the troubled school district.

Darnell Earley plans to leave the job Feb. 29 after a little more than a year at the helm. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder plans to appoint a transition leader before the end of the month.

“Darnell has done a very good job under some very difficult circumstances. I want to thank him for his professionalism and his service to the people of Michigan,” Snyder said in a statement.

Outside the governor’s office, public assessment of Earley’s job performance hasn’t been as kind, with groups ranging from the city’s teachers union to state lawmakers calling for his ouster. Before Snyder appointed Earley as emergency manager in January 2015, Earley served as the emergency manager in the city of Flint, Mich., from September 2013 to January 2015.

Earley has faced growing criticism in recent months both for what happened with the water supply in Flint and the problems within the Detroit schools such as crowded classrooms, crumbling schools, and the district’s mounting debt. Teachers have staged several sickouts in the past two months to protest the mold, water damage, and rodent problems in some of the city’s older schools, saying Earley has all but ignored their complaints.

The Detroit Federation of Teachers, along with the American Federation of Teachers, filed a lawsuit last month against the Detroit schools and Earley, asking a judge to remove Earley from his state-appointed position.

The Detroit Free Press reported that the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus publicly asked Snyder to fire Earley, saying he has “left a trail of destruction in both Flint and Detroit.”

Last week, the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform invited Earley and several other Michigan officials to testify on Wednesday about the water crisis in Flint. Earley has declined to testify, the Detroit News reported.

“When I was appointed to this position, Gov. Snyder and I agreed that our goal was for me to be the last emergency manager appointed to DPS,” Earley said in a statement released through Snyder’s office. “I have completed the comprehensive restructuring, necessary to downsizing the central office, and the development of a network structure that empowers the educational leadership of our schools to direct more resources toward classroom instruction.”

Earley was the fourth emergency manager of the Detroit school system, which has been under state oversight since March 2009. Under previous emergency managers, the district lost tens of thousands of students, closed dozens of schools, and struggled with persistent budget deficits.

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.