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Final Arguments Heard In Detroit School Board Suit

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A Wayne County Circuit Court judge wants more information before making a decision in a yearlong civil lawsuit aimed at taking academic control away from Detroit Public Schools’ emergency financial manager and restoring it to the elected Board of Education.

Attorneys representing Robert Bobb and the school board made their final cases Friday before Judge Wendy Baxter.

Baxter was expected to issue an opinion after both sides submit more paperwork backing up their arguments, according to The Detroit News.

Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm appointed Bobb in March 2009 to correct the struggling school district’s finances.

However, the board claims in its lawsuit that Bobb has exceeded his power and made academic changes without consulting them.

“He seized power in the city of Detroit over all aspects of the schools and he doesn’t have the authority to do that,” board attorney George Washington said in his closing Friday afternoon. “There is a clear legal duty to consult with the board.”

Washington asked Baxter to force Bobb to attend school board meetings once each month and consult with the board before closing schools or making other changes in the district.

But John Clark, who is representing Bobb, said he is acting under the authority Granholm gave him.

State law governing emergency financial managers does not spell out how consultations with school boards are to be held.

Clark said such consultations could be done through other means, like correspondence, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Bobb closed 30 schools at end of the last academic year as the district’s enrollment continues to drop. He also has instituted a tougher curriculum and ramped up teaching standards in the district, which historically scores poorly on state standardized tests.

Bobb’s original one-year contract was renewed in March and extended into March 2011.

The district has an estimated deficit of $363 million.

© MMX WWJ Radio, All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to his report.

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