By Ann Zaniewski
Members of the Detroit Public Schools Board voted Monday to get rid of the district's emergency manager during a meeting centered on one theme -- the feeling that state control is ruining the city's school system.
It was the third time school that board members have voted out Jack Martin, but this time the vote coincided with what many members believe to be his last day in office under law.
It was not immediately clear, however, whether their actions would have any immediate impact. A dispute over the state's emergency manager law -- and the length Martin can remain in office -- is headed for court Wednesday.
The board's votes to both remove Martin and remove the district from receivership drew applause from a crowd of about 40 people during the meeting at Renaissance High School.
The district has been under emergency management since 2009. It has a roughly $127-million deficit.
A resolution passed tonight said the state of Michigan forced DPS into a deficit through ill-advised purchases of bonds, contracts, purchases and leases, and preventing the school board from taking action.
Parent Charlene Ward of Detroit attended the meeting specifically to watch the vote about Martin. She said her son's school, Detroit School of Arts, has suffered in recent years from revolving leadership, laid-off teachers and curriculum cuts.
"It's just the destruction of the school system," she said of emergency management.
The emergency manager law, PA 436, says if an emergency manager has served for 18 months after being appointed, a governing body can remove the manager by a two-thirds vote.
The majority of the school board believes that Martin's tenure ends this week, 18 months after PA 436 took effect.
Attorneys for Martin disagree. They argued in court filings that the board couldn't remove Martin until January, 18 months after his July 2013 appointment. State officials have also said they believe Martin's tenure will run through January. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday in Ingham County Circuit Court.
A spokesman for DPS could not immediately be reached Monday night. Earlier Monday evening, the board hosted a viewing of "Because They Could: The Fight for Oakman School." The documentary film details the July 2013 closure of the Oakman Elementary-Orthopedic School, and parents' struggle to save it.
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