Lawsuit alleges Detroit mayor ordered DDOT to stop putting River Rouge school ads on buses

District has advertised on buses for years

Detroit Department of Transportation bus (WDIV)

DETROIT – A lawsuit alleges Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan ordered Department of Transportation buses to not use Rover Rouge school ads on its buses.

According to the lawsuit, the River Rouge district has advertised on buses since about 2012.

A statement from the district claims the mayor targeted River Rouge Schools, and charter schools are still allowed to advertise on DDOT buses.

Read the full statement below:

"On Oct. 15, 2019, the River Rouge Schools, its Superintendent Dr. Derrick Coleman, and Board Trustee Deborah Harper filed a law suit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against Mayor Mike Duggan, the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT), and Outfront Media.

"For many years, the River Rouge Schools has been advertising on DDOT buses through contracts with Outfront Media (formerly CBS Outdoors). This has been a positive relationship for both DDOT and River Rouge Schools. DDOT has been paid for this advertising campaign and River Rouge Schools has benefited from the advertising by more than doubling its student population during the time that it has undertaken this advertising campaign. This relationship has also benefitted school-age children in the City of Detroit as it has informed them and their families about the free quality educational options available to them. That relationship, however, has been ended because of an order by Mayor Mike Duggan. River Rouge Schools believes this is part of a targeted attack by the Mayor against the School District.

"Mayor Duggan made clear his animosity toward the River Rouge Schools during his 2018 State of the City address by singling them out for sending busses into the City of Detroit to offer students a free educational option in addition to the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) or a local charter school. Mayor Duggan singled out River Rouge Schools despite the fact that other surrounding school districts also sent busses into the city to offer options to students – some of which are educating far more students from the City of Detroit than is River Rouge Schools.
This animosity was further demonstrated earlier this year when Mayor Duggan ordered DDOT to forbid advertising on its busses for schools other than the DPSCD. As a result, DDOT canceled the contract for advertising for River Rouge Schools. Despite this directive, DDOT has continued to allow advertising on its busses for local charter schools, demonstrating that the Mayor's order was actually just a targeted attack on River Rouge's effective advertising campaign.

"River Rouge Schools, Dr. Coleman, and Mrs. Harper believe that this targeted attack is wrong and should not be allowed. Ending River Rouge's effective advertising campaign is not only a breach of a long-standing contractual relationship, but a violation of First Amendment rights. It is also a targeted attack to try and prevent the families in the City of Detroit from learning about the quality and free educational opportunities available to them. We brought this law suit to prevent that message from being silenced."

Here is a statement from DDOT interim director Angelica Jones:

"The claims made in this complaint are utter nonsense.  The Mahyor never gave any such directive  regarding River Rouge Schools or any other advertiser.  It is curious that in the three months that have passed since this alleged incident, DDOT has not heard a word of complaint from the River Rouge School district until they filed their lawsuit yesterday."