Civil Rights in Schools: Detroit School Board Fights for Equality

PreschoolersMembers of the public school board for the city of Detroit say that Michigan governor Ricky Snyder, along with the emergency managers appointed by the state, have discriminated against Black children. The school board claims that the educational system in the area is separate and unequal. The Detroit school board has filed a Title IV complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice.

LaMar Lemmons, a school board member, stated that teachers, students and the general public have been denied their civil rights by Michigan’s emergency managers. In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, Lemmons stated that the people of Detroit “…want a thorough investigation into what appears to us to be corruption, theft, misfeasance and malfeasance.” Lemmons has long been a critic of Governor Synder.

The school board complaint also contains information revealing that district leaders did not heed the warnings concerning Charles Pugh, former Detroit city council president. Many officials expressed concern over Pugh being permitted to mentor young boys. The former city council president faced a lawsuit in which a teenager accused Pugh of making sexual advances toward him.

Snyder spokesperson David Murray has countered Lemmons’ statements by saying that the school board is using “divisive rhetoric.”

The civil rights complaint is 450 pages long and covers a number of grievances. The Detroit School Board asserts that the state of Michigan has had control of Detroit Public Schools for 13 of the last 16 years. The board accuses emergency managers of hiring people for management positions who are not qualified, making financial cuts that are detrimental to classrooms, and retaliation against school board members who have challenged the system in an attempt to improve Detroit schools.

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