DPS Emergency Manager Darnell Earley out at end of month

- Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Darnell Earley has informed Gov. Snyder he is planning to leave his position at the end of the month, Gov. Snyder's office confirmed in a news release. You can read Earley's letter in full below. 

Earley is also the former Emergency Manager of the city of Flint, which is now under national scrutiny over its contaminated water system. While Earley was Flint's emergency manager, the city switched from Detroit's water system back to Flint's to cut costs. High lead levels have since been detected in Flint resident's tap water.

Earley has been called to testify in front of a Congressional hearing on the water crisis. That hearing will be Wednesday, February 3 in Washington, D.C. Other authorities who have been summoned to testify include: Joel Beauvais, the acting deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Water; Miguel Del Toral, researcher with Region 5 Water Division; Keigh Creagh, director of the Department of Environmental Quality for the State of Michigan; and Marc Edwards, professor of Environmental and Water Resources Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Though all have been called to testify, the house panel can't force them to.

Meanwhile, Detroit Public Schools has seen an increasing number of teacher sick-outs and protests. Last month, nearly 90 Detroit Public Schools were closed due to a high number of teacher absences. The massive sick-out coincided with President Obama's visit to town for the auto show. The teachers gathered outside Cobo Center hoping to catch the president's attention.

A handful of other school closings have continued throughout the weeks. Teachers say they are protesting poor working, learning and building conditions.

Gov. Snyder's office says he will appoint a transition leader before the end of the month, as Earley's intent to leave office is effective February 29, 2016. 

Here is Earley's letter to Gov. Snyder in full: 

Dear Governor Snyder:
Section 141.1562 Sec. 22. (1) Of Public Act 436 of 2012 reads in part: "If an emergency manager determines that the financial emergency that he or she was appointed to manage has been rectified, the emergency manager shall inform the governor and the state treasurer."

Since you appointed me as Emergency Manager of Detroit Public Schools in January 2014, I have worked diligently with the help of your office, the State Treasurer's office, financial and educational industry experts, and others to eliminate the District's structural budget deficit. Also, working with the District's executive leadership team, I have implemented a comprehensive restructuring and downsizing of the system's Central Office operations, including a decentralization of some of its administrative responsibilities in favor of an empowered system of school support networks allowing for school building leadership to operate with guided autonomy. Cost containment measures involving the District's healthcare benefits have also been implemented, which should keep that ongoing expense at a manageable level. Finally, enrollment, which has begun to level in recent years, is projected to stabilize over the next two years, which should also have a positive impact on District revenues.

These initiatives, while not all inclusive, have strengthened the District's financial capacity to manage its operations. This was evidenced in the District's annual audit for fiscal year 2014/2015 which shows that current year revenues and expenditures would have yielded a budgeted fund balance of approximately $13 million, but for the long-term debt estimated to be approximately $515 million by June 30, 2016.

Your legislative package now before the Michigan Senate proposes to eliminate that debt, and to restructure the District so that it can function without having to designate approximately $57 million each fiscal year to service the debt; without resolution of this issue, the District will be rendered insolvent. In anticipation of your plan to eliminate the debt, my efforts -- in addition to many others who have been engaged in this project with me -- have positioned the District to move beyond the restructuring and financial imbalances of its operations, and to now focus on improving the academic achievement of students in a new Detroit Community Schools.

It is from these premises, and pursuant to that portion of PA 436 cited herein, that I am informing you of my intent to leave my position as Emergency Manager of Detroit Public Schools, effective February 29, 2016. While there is still much work yet to be done, my role as an emergency manager has facilitated the expedited accomplishment of those tasks critical to long-term financial sustainability, and therefore should not be the focus as deliberations take place on the education reform legislation.

I have established a 3-Point Transition Plan, which over the next five months should guide the District toward solidifying its financial and organizational position with the passage of the legislation, and an eventual return to some form of local control.

Thank you for giving me an opportunity to assist you in your efforts to improve local government and public education in Michigan.
Sincerely,
Darnell Earley
ICMA-CM, MPA

This is a developing story. Stay with FOX 2 for updates.

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