Last week, the Board of Regents of Eastern Michigan University revisited their interlocal agreement with Gov. Rick Snyder’s failed experiment on Detroit school kids known as the Education Achievement Authority. They had agreed a year prior to reevaluate their participation in the partnership with the EAA based on their progress on four specific items:
- A stronger partnership is forged between Eastern Michigan University and the EAA
- Demonstrated student achievement and progress in EAA schools
- Fiscal accountability
- Complete transparency of all activities, including prompt and appropriate responses to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act
Analysis of the EAA’s success at meeting these goals showed that, a year later, they have failed to make progress on ANY of them.
Nonetheless, the Board of Regents – seven out of eight of whom were appointed to their position by Gov. Snyder – agreed to stay in the partnership with the EAA anyway, despite an incredible list of problems, failures, corruption, malfeasance, and ineptitude spanning more than four years.
On Friday, the faculty and department head of the EMU Department of Teacher Education passed a unanimous of No Confidence in the Board of Regents’ “leadership”.
Below is the text of the letter the faculty sent out to the EMU community explaining their bold move.
December 14, 2015
To the Eastern Michigan University Community:
At the December 11, 2015 meeting of the Department of Teacher Education at Eastern Michigan University (EMU), the faculty and Department Head passed a unanimous vote of no confidence in the leadership of the EMU Board of Regents. Given the Board of Regents’ gross violation of its own Code of Ethics, the Teacher Education Faculty and Department Head have no confidence in the Board members’ ability to be faithful stewards of Eastern Michigan University.
On December 5, 2014, in the face of strong calls from students, faculty, staff, community members, and the President of the University to withdraw from the interlocal agreement between the School District for the City of Detroit and Eastern Michigan University that was required to establish the Education Achievement Authority (EAA), the Board of Regents agreed to review the interlocal agreement during its December 2015 meeting. In a December 2014 memorandum, the EMU Board of Regents outlined four criteria to evaluate the EAA; if substantial progress was not made in these four areas, the Board would notify the EAA of its intent to withdraw from the agreement. The Faculty Senate presented the Board of Regents a document evaluating the EAA according to the criteria established in the Board’s 2014 memorandum and found the EAA failed in all four areas and called for the Board of Regents to immediately withdraw from the agreement. In addition, students, staff, faculty, and community members spoke in unison calling for the EMU Board of Regents to immediately withdraw from the interlocal agreement. In response, the Board refused to review the interlocal agreement at its December 8, 2015 meeting. The Board of Regents, in the face of empirical evidence and stakeholder voices, has not adhered to the Code of Ethics pledge each member has taken when appointed to the Board. As such, we, the members of the Department of Teacher Education, no longer have confidence in the Board’s intent and actions to serve the best interest of Eastern Michigan University.
The Board’s actions of December 8, 2015 violated multiple provisions of the Code of Ethics, which each member of the board signs annually. Below are the following elements and provisions that have been violated as a result of the Board’s actions of December 5, 2014 and December 8, 2015:
“We will consider the interests of all of its constituents in decision making, including students, administration, faculty, staff and other stakeholders.” By repeatedly ignoring the voices of students, staff, faculty, the University President, alumni, and community members, the Board has failed in its responsibility of considering the interests of all of its constituents in decision-making.
Article 1, Paragraph 1 (Public Trust)
“Regents are expected to carry out their governance responsibilities in an honest, ethical and diligent manner.” This provision was violated when the Board did not follow through with its actions outlined in the December 2014 memorandum stating it would send notice of a withdrawal unless substantial progress was made by the EAA in four areas. When the Board was
notified of the EAA’s failure in all four areas it changed the EAA discussion from an action to a non-action item on its agenda and would not discuss the agreement with the public on December 8, 2015. The Board has failed in its responsibility to carry out the governance responsibilities in an honest, ethical, and diligent manner.
Article 1, Paragraph 2 (Welfare of Eastern Michigan University)
“In carrying out their duties, however, Regents must keep the welfare of the entire University paramount over any parochial interests. Regents should refrain from actions and involvements that might prove embarrassing to the institution.” The EMU-EAA agreement was established at the behest of the Governor’s office, and the Board of Regents did not consult with EMU faculty experts during or after the process. The agreement has generated a great deal of negative and embarrassing articles in the popular press and in the scholarly literature; the agreement also has had a negative impact on EMU students. The Board’s stubborn adherence to the agreement in the face of opposition from all areas within and outside of the University demonstrates the Board has failed in its responsibility to keep the welfare of the entire University paramount over any parochial interests.
Article 1, Paragraph 3 (Duty of Care).
“Consistent with their responsibilities as members of the Governing Board, Regents will discharge their duties, including any duties as a member of a committee, in good faith, with the care an ordinarily prudent person in a like position would exercise under similar circumstances, in a manner the Regent reasonably believes is in the best interest of the University, and with the level of decorum appropriate to the office of Regent.” An ordinarily prudent person, in the face of multiple voices explaining the negative impact of the EMU-EAA agreement—including the University President—would NOT have exercised the decision making the Board followed at its December 8, 2015 meeting. The Board has failed to follow the care an ordinarily prudent person would exercise under similar circumstances and failed to serve the best interests of the University.
Article 1, Paragraph 5 (Due Diligence).
“Each Regent shall undertake with due diligence a critical analysis of the risks and benefits of any matter coming before the Board for action. Regents shall promote a culture of constructive debate about major information necessary to carry out the Regents’ duty of care to act in the best interest of the University.” As noted above, the Board entered into the agreement without consulting faculty experts on the subject. Subsequently, the Board, on December 8, 2015, failed to consider the analysis presented by the Faculty Senate and the perspectives of many in attendance when it decided to not take action on the EAA agreement; the Board’s lack of response on the issue was antithetical to promoting a culture of constructive debate. The Board of Regents has failed in its duty to critically analyze the risks and benefits of any matter coming before the Board for action with due diligence.