Old Detroit school district misses deadline, misses out on $6.5M

- Detroit Public Schools missed a big deadline that would've led to millions of dollars for the district.

How does the old Detroit school district miss out on $6.5 million to help pay off about $2 billion in legacy debt? Apparently by forgetting to submit paperwork.

"Ultimately I think we are all responsible, including myself," Nikolai Vitti said.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District superintendent says that August 15 was the deadline to submit paperwork to the state, which reimburses districts for lost debt millage funds. Vitti says that paperwork was never finished.

"This isn't an act of corruption. This is an example of people not owning up their work," he said.

Vitti says he discovered the paperwork wasn't done this week, adding that he was told the outgoing CFO said he'd handle it, passing it onto the executive director to complete.

"Then there was a significant blame game going on ... It's inappropriate and it's unacceptable," he said.

Vitti says losing this chunk of money won't affect day-to-day operations  and won't impact the debt being paid off by 2049, but would have helped pay down that legacy debt sooner.

Board member LaMar Lemmons issued the following statement:

"Let me state this for the record; the failure of the district to secure these funds has a tremendously negative effect on all the citizens and taxpayers of the city of Detroit! Failure to secure these funds means that they, we, will  have to unnecessarily shoulder an elongated burden of paying off the State of Michigan's created deficit and consequently delay the time in which we can remediate, rebuild and reconstruct our poorly maintained and dilapidated school buildings. The voters of the city of can not hold the past interim acting superintendent or the superintendent accountable. Rather, they have every right to expect the school board, as their duly elected representatives,  to put into place, by policy, the necessary safeguards to protect them from such fiascos! The responsibility for this fiasco ultimately rests with the duly elected school board AND the current Superintendent. The buck stops here!"

And Board President Iris Taylor adds:

"The Superintendent properly informed the school board when he was made aware of the District's missed deadline. He also has clearly reported back to the board regarding what occurred and the accountability measures that have and will be taken. In the end, we are all responsible for rebuilding the District, including the school board. This comes with positive and negative occurrences. Although our students, parents, and employees need to know that this incident does not affect Detroit Public Schools Community District's day to day operations or dollars in the classroom. At this point, it is time to shift our energy and attention to working with the Department of Treasury to obtain the $6.5 million in reimbursement for Detroit Public Schools." 

"The Superintendent properly informed the school board... He also has clearly reported back to the board regarding what occurred and the accountability measures that have and will be taken. In the end, we are all responsible for rebuilding the District."

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