ACLU Files Friend-of-the-Court in Detroit School Takeover Appeal

February 12, 2001

DETROIT — The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York agree that residents of the City of Detroit were illegally deprived of the right to elect their own school board when the Michigan Legislature authorized the take over of the Detroit Public Schools.

In a friend-of-the-court brief filed today in the U.S. Court of Appeals, the ACLU of Michigan supported the claims of Detroit citizens in the case filed against Detroit’s School Reform Board, Mayor Dennis Archer, Governor John Engler and others.  The ACLU brief asks that the District Court reverse the trial court’s ruling that permits the State’s takeover of the school system. 

“Detroiters now have less opportunity to participate in the political process than voters anywhere else in the State of Michigan and to elect representatives to run their own school system,” said Kary Moss, ACLU of Michigan Executive Director.  “We believe the school board takeover violates the Voting Rights Act by singling out predominantly African-American voters in the City of Detroit,”  Moss added. 

The case was first heard by U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds who ruled in October, 2000 that the Michigan Legislature did not violate the Voting Rights Act by  enacting the 1999 law that disbanded Detroit’s elected school board and created a reform board, all of whose members are appointed.

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