DETROIT (WWJ/1270) Detroit Public Schools consultants are creating phony negative evaluations of experienced teachers in a “monstrous plot” to fire anyone making too much money and destroy the teacher’s union, according to Superintendent Dr. John Telford.
“Some of the stories would make you cry,” Telford said Wednesday on the Charlie Langton Talk Radio 1270 show. “There have been teachers who weren’t able to continue their house payments after outside evaluators came in, gave them a 5-10 minute evaluation and 20-30 year veteran teachers have lost their jobs. It’s a real mess.”
While Detroit deals with low student achievement and graduation rates, shuttered buildings and debt, Telford said he has handled hundreds of calls about fired teachers and principals, and had to bring in two pro bono ombudsmen to help handle the outpouring since the state appointed Roy Roberts as the district’s emergency financial manager. “The union’s been trying (to get them reinstated), but Mr. Roberts pretty much pretty put the crown on his head and proclaimed himself the king of Detroit Public Schools,” Telford said.
He added he’s taking Roberts to court Thursday to address many issues, including whether Roberts has the right to make academic decisions as part of his role overseeing the district’s finances. “The logical answer is they report to me, not to Mr. Roberts, but they are claiming he reports to them,” Telford said.
Tied into this is a unanimous vote by the Detroit Board of Education late Tuesday to request that the FBI look into spending of federal dollars by Roberts, especially money related to federal Title One funding.
These are the latest salvos in the battle Detroit’s elected city and school officials are waging against outside oversight of their beleaguered finances. City officials fought off a state attempt to take over Belle Isle, the city’s largest park, and continue to battle Gov. Rick Snyder’s attempt to have appointees oversee the city’s debt-ridden books.
Telford said he’s been approached by “many teachers and principals and even folks above that level” about “injustice and criminality.”
“We’ve had innumerable allegations of wrongdoing,” said Board of Education President LaMar Lemmons, adding, “Allegations of backdating contracts, allegations of contracts that were no bid, not accepting the lowest bid, allegations of misspent federal dollars, etc., etc.”
He added Roberts has not put the information into the correct system for board members to see, which spurred the board to ask for the investigation. “Because it’s Title One funding, it’s automatically a direct interest to the federal government,” Lemmons said.
Telford is obviously rankled over Roberts’ position.
“He needs to step down and go back to Bloomfield Hills and let me and the board run the district,” Telford said, later adding, “I have an uncomfortable feeling that some major malfeasance will be uncovered.”
A district spokesperson say they are not aware of any alleged corruption.
But board Vice President Herman Davis said she knows something is wrong. “We know that he’s co-mingling funds and that shouldn’t happen,” Davis said.
The board is also alleging corruption involving contracts. A Roberts’ spokesman says they are not aware of the allegations, and says they have a robust Inspector General and a policy in place to avoid such problems.