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State officials in Michigan approved a new emergency plan to rescue Detroit public schools from its crushing debt, most of which was accumulated since the state took control of the district.
Michigan’s Emergency Loan Board on Monday approved measures to implement a $617-million financial rescue and restructuring plan for Detroit’s public schools, over the vocal objections of elected school board members and others who attended the meeting in Lansing.
The board approved borrowing to retire or refinance debt, plus the transfer of assets from the old Detroit Public Schools to a new Detroit Public Schools Community District.
There were shouts of “Shame!,” “Jim Crow” and “Black lives matter” as the three board members left an auditorium at the Michigan Library and Historical Center through a back exit.
Critics say the plan treats Detroit public school students as second-class citizens because they would be the only Michigan public school students who could be taught by uncertified teachers. They also say much of the debt addressed by the plan was rung up while Detroit schools were under state control.
“We believe that the state owes the district considerably more, and we have asked continuously for an audit,” said Lamar Lemmons, president of the elected school board.
House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, has called the legislation “an historic plan to save Detroit schools – and the rest of the state – from a disastrous and unprecedented bankruptcy,” adding “this incredible investment by Michigan taxpayers will erase decades of debt and set the new district up for success.”