Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette [official profile] filed suit on Thursday seeking to remove from office seven members of the Detroit school board on grounds that enrollment in Detroit public schools is allegedly too low to justify board members being elected on a by-district basis. Filed in Wayne County Circuit Court [official website], the lawsuit asserts [Detroit Free Press report] that seven school board members are illegally holding office because they were elected in separate districts rather than in an at large election across the entire Detroit school district. In the lawsuit Schuette argues that the Michigan Revised Code [text] mandates that school districts with over 100,000 students may elect board members by district, but that Detroit public schools are expected to enroll only about 49,000 students in the upcoming school year. Schuette said he was filing the lawsuit in order to ensure that Detroit's children receive a qualifty education. School board president LaMarr Lemmons criticized the lawsuit, claiming that it undermines local authority over school board elections.
Michigan has been at the center of controversy recently regarding education law and policy. In July the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (ACLU) [official website] filed a lawsuit alleging that the state of Michigan and the Highland Park school district violated state and federal law by failing to ensure that students are reading at grade level [JURIST report]. According to the ACLU two-thirds of students in the Highland Park School District lack the basic reading skills to pass Michigan proficiency standards. The lawsuit, apparently the first of its kind, requested immediate help from the state [press release], including research-based methods of instruction, highly trained educators and administrators, a process for monitoring progress, new educational materials and textbooks and a clean and safe learning environment.