DETROIT - The Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) union announced Thursday that it is suing the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) district and asking a judge to remove state-appointed Emergency Manager Darnell Earley.
The suit alleges the district and Earley allowed the schools' conditions to deteriorate. American Federation of Teachers union Administrator Ann Mitchell said the lawsuit was filed Thursday in state court. View the complaint below or here.
"We are charging the DPS and Darnell Earley have let the fiscal situation and the environmental conditions of the schools to deteriorate so severely that Detroit is not providing a minimally sufficient education," said Mitchell during a news conference.
The suit says conditions are so severe that students and staff are risking their health.
Teachers within the DPS district have been staging absences, or "sick-outs," this year as they protest what many have called "deplorable" conditions at the buildings. Teachers have been demanding better teaching and learning environments, and better pay.
"I'm extremely proud of our DFT members and other school employees for bringing light to the deplorable, dangerous, unhealthy and unacceptable conditions that students and educators are forced to endure everyday," said Interim DFT President Ivy Bailey.
The city of Detroit has completed inspections at many of the buildings. Violations found include rodent and insect infestations, holes in ceilings, water leaks, broken glass and water-damaged floors. You can view those inspections reports here.
The teachers union also is asking for a new capital fund to fix the schools. However, experts have been predicting the district will run out of cash by April 2016.
Earley released a statement Thursday evening defending his and his team's work since he was appointed to the emergency manager position. Here is his full statement:
"Approximately one year ago, I accepted the Governor’s appointment as Emergency Manager for Detroit Public Schools with the clear goal of being the last Emergency Manager appointed to DPS. The focus of my work has been on preparing DPS for long-term financial sustainability and a return to some form of local control. My team and I have worked hard to develop and implement a comprehensive restructuring plan that has taken a financially broken educational system and transformed it into one that, but for its long-term debt, has eliminated it structural budget deficit. This is evident from the District’s FY2015 audit report, which documents the fact that if the annual $56 million in debt payments were resolved, the District would be able to operate within its projected revenues. That is the role of an Emergency Manager. We have achieved that objective, and now it is critical that the Michigan legislature invest the critically necessary funds in the new Detroit Public School system that have been proposed in Gov. Snyder’s education reform plan.
The issue of the disrepair of some of the District’s buildings and a plan to address that is before the legislature. The investment of these funds will be necessary to implement a badly needed, district-wide long-term capital improvement plan. Meanwhile, we continue to address those matters that have been presented in the inspection reports from the City, and have been made aware of through our work order system, through a corrective action plan that provides available resources for these repairs. We are committed to ensuring that our students and staff have a safe working and learning environment, and that is a part of the discussion regarding the critical financial investment into the new Detroit Public School System that is before the Michigan legislature."
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