Detroit School Board wants emergency manager out

Detroit School Board files lawsuit over teacher layoffs

DETROIT - There is a new fight for control of the Detroit Public School district, but the showdown may ultimately be settled in court.

On Wednesday, Detroit School Board President LaMar Lemmons was in court.

During a School Board meeting Tuesday night, Lemmons and other board members voted to overturn much of what Emergency Manager Roy Roberts has put in place.

The Michigan Attorney General's office has argued that 7 of the 11 board members were unlawfully elected by districts and should not even hold office.

"We don't know. We just want to be left alone," said Lemmons, "to manage our own families, our own communities and our own school district, and our own elected officials like they do in the rest of the state."

For now, both sides will have to wait because Judge John Gillis delayed a decision.

In another new development, a separate lawsuit was filed Wednesday by the Detroit Federation of Teachers. The union is trying to reverse the layoffs of 422 teachers.

"There's no real rhyme or reason as to what was done and how it was done," said DFT President Keith Johnson.

According to DFT lawsuit, the district unfairly used a new evaluation process and pink –slipped several teachers who scored high on their evaluations.

"I don't think they like you to speak up during staff meetings," said Judy Castora, who taught in DPS for 25 years before being laid off this year. "I questioned the evaluation process."

A spokesperson for DPS said the evaluations were done fairly, under a state law that limits the use of seniority in teacher placement. Teachers who do not agree with their score can file an appeal by the end of the month.

As for Emergency Manager Roy Roberts, the school board is trying to force him out. Roberts currently controls the district's finances while the school board controls academics.

"If there are any academic plans that have a financial implication then Mr. Roberts would then, if act, have the final say on funding them as well," said DPS Spokesman Steve Wasco.

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