DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A retired judge who handled Detroit’s bankruptcy has been appointed to run the city’s deeply troubled school system.

The appointment of Steven Rhodes as transition manager was announced Monday by Gov. Rick Snyder.

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Rhodes will oversee the school district’s finances and operations, but he will appoint an interim superintendent as soon as possible to handle academics. The governor says Rhodes is highly respected and a “natural choice.”

Detroit schools are in bad shape and could run out of money by April. Snyder has proposed spending $770 million over a decade to pay down debt and launch a new district. But his solution isn’t the only one in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Rhodes has said bankruptcy isn’t a good option for the schools because much of the debt can’t be erased.

State-appointed Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Darnell Earley announced his resignation on Feb. 2 stating he completed work ahead of his 18-month schedule.

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In a statement released  from Detroit Federation of Teachers Interim President Ivy Bailey on the appointment:

She says she’s hoping Judge Rhodes moves the district closer to a locally elected school board.  In the statement, Bailey says Rhodes has signaled support for local control and the willingness to listen and work with educators, parents and the community which is in contrast to the approach of past leaders.  The teachers union also is urging Judge Rhodes to consider creating a transition team position that would be filled with input from the entire community.

“The Detroit Federation of Teachers will continue to fight for a locally elected and empowered school board, and it is our sincere hope that Judge Rhodes’ transitional leadership moves us closer to that goal and away from the failed emergency manager system. Rhodes has signaled support for local control and a willingness to listen to and work with educators, parents and the community. This is in contrast to the approach of past school leaders, which included filing lawsuits against educators, banning health inspectors from hazardous public school buildings, and racking up a school debt of a half-billion dollars with no accountability,” the statement read in part.


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