Audience bristles at Rhodes' turnaround talk for DPS schools

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DPS transition manager Judge Steven Rhodes has a 45-day plan to keep Detroit schools running.

Tuesday night teachers and parents gathered to hear details first-hand.

Inside Detroit Martin Luther King, Jr. High School, a crowd was hungry for control and not at all happy to see Rhodes, someone most view as just another emergency manager in charge of DPS.

"People in the state of Michigan voted against it," said one parent. "And the (Gov. Rick Snyder) implemented it anyway. He should be in jail and so should you."

"Here you are benefitting from emergency management," said another woman in attendance. "Eighteen thousand dollars a month to do the governor's bidding."

The former bankruptcy judge calls himself a transitional manager with the same goal as them.

"It’s my job to transition DPS to local control promptly and as smoothly as possible," Rhodes said.

But Rhodes hit a few bumps when it came to who he plans on meeting with -- or rather not meeting with to discuss that future.

"I am a member of the Detroit Board of Education," said Tawana Simpson. "I have made several requests to meet with you." 

Rhodes: "At this time I don't have any plans to meet with the elected school board."

Simpson: "Why sir, why?"

Rhodes: "The best answer I can give you is what we have seen here this afternoon, next question please."

However just 20 minutes later, after emotional pleas and testimony a change of heart as Rhodes agreed to meet with the board after all.

"I want to have that conversation, but the condition is, it has to be a civil meeting," he said. "Are you willing to agree to that term?"

Rhodes says he understands everyone is passionate about getting DPS on track, himself included, but closed with a word of caution. 

"Your fight is not with me," Rhodes said. "It is with the legislature. The legislature is the branch of government that enacted this law that you don't like."

After the event, the school board president Herman Davis decided to take up the transitional manager on his offer to meet.

"I do want to meet with them," Rhodes said. "I am persuaded that is something that I should have done and wants to do."

And with that handshake a tentative date was set for next week when Rhodes will meet with those school board members.