News Story

Republican AG Rebuffs GOP Governor On Failed Detroit Schools: OK To Close Them

Schuette: 'If a child can’t spell opportunity, they won’t have opportunity'

Attorney General Bill Schuette released an official legal opinion Wednesday that schools operated by the reconstituted Detroit school district may be closed due to poor academic performance. Attorney General spokesperson Andrea Bitely confirmed that the opinion is binding on state agencies. Schuette's opinion rebuffs a contrary legal opinion Gov. Rick Snyder had endorsed.

“The law is clear: Michigan parents and their children do not have to be stuck indefinitely in a failing school,” Schuette said in a press release. “Detroit students and parents deserve accountability and high performing schools. If a child can’t spell opportunity, they won’t have opportunity.”

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-Olive Township, and House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, both requested the legal opinion from the attorney general. Earlier this month, Snyder cited a legal opinion from the law firm Miller Canfield, which said no school in newly reconstituted Detroit Public Schools Community District before July 1, 2019. The language covering how and when schools could be closed was in the $617 million bailout bill of Detroit Public Schools.

"We just heard about the opinion early this morning with everyone else and need time to review it once it is received," said Snyder's spokesman, Ari Adler, in an email. "We have stated all along that we are following the law, and as additional opinions interpreting the law are presented, they will be carefully reviewed."

John D. Austin, President of the Michigan state Board of Education, issued this statement Wednesday: “Bill Schuette’s wrongheaded opinion is just the latest pandering toward right-wing forces that want to see DPS fail.”

More than half of the regular (non-charter) public schools within the city of Detroit received an F grade in the most recent Mackinac Center for Public Policy school report card that factors in the student’s socio-economic background to determine how much value a school is adding.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.