Detroit, Emergency Manager Law, Emergency Managers, Flint, Rick Snyder — February 2, 2016 at 11:22 am

BREAKING: Former Flint Emergency Manager, current overseer of Detroit Schools to resign, refusing to testify before Congress


Darnell Earley, the former Flint Emergency Manager and current Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager will resign on February 29th according to a statement released by Gov. Snyder this morning on the state website.

Earley, who has denied he was responsible for any of the problems in Flint or Detroit Schools, is quoted in the statement as basically saying, “Mission Accomplished”:

When I was appointed to this position, Gov. Snyder and I agreed that our goal was for me to be the last emergency manager appointed to DPS. I have completed the comprehensive restructuring, necessary to downsizing the central office, and the development of a network structure that empowers the educational leadership of our schools to direct more resources toward classroom instruction.

Although they may have planned for him to be the final Emergency Manager, the same release says that Governor Snyder “will appoint a transition leader before the end of the month to set in place his plan to restructure DPS to address the district’s academics and finances.” This suggests another Emergency Manager since, according to Public Act 436 – Michigan’s anti-democratic Emergency Manager Law – the next step after an Emergency Manager is a receivership transition advisory board, not a “transition leader”.

The embattled Snyder-appointed overseer is also refusing to testify before a hearing into the Flint water crisis being held by the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee tomorrow.

With the U.S. House Oversight Committee set to hold the first hearing into the Flint water crisis Wednesday, a congressional staff member told the Free Press late Monday that former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley has declined to testify.

The report that Earley would decline to testify came Monday night. On Tuesday morning, Gov. Rick Snyder’s office sent out a release saying Earley, who has been serving as emergency manager for the Detroit Public Schools, had notified the governor of his intent to leave the position effective Feb. 19 [sic], 2016.

In the release, the governor did not mention Earley’s decision not to testify, which came from a congressional staffer who spoke anonymously because the committee hasn’t made Earley’s decision public. Neither a committee spokesperson nor Earley, who the Free Press tried to contact through Detroit Public Schools, responded to calls to confirm the report.

The Michigan Democratic Party is calling on Gov. Snyder to compel Earley to testify, puzzling over what they call Gov. Snyder’s “inexplicable” praise for Earley in the resignation statement.

Detroit-area legislators Senators Morris W. Hood III, Vincent Gregory, Hoon-Yung Hopgood, Bert Johnson, David Knezek, and Coleman A. Young II echoed the MDP’s position in a joint statement:

We welcome Earley’s resignation, but it doesn’t signal the end of investigations or accountability. He needs to answer for his role in the Flint water crisis and for failing to acknowledge the deplorable learning conditions in the Detroit Public School System.

The state cannot allow Earley to use this resignation as an opportunity to escape responsibility. He still must be compelled to testify and to release the details of his severance package and contract.

Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich said it’s not enough that Earley resign. “The public also has a right to know all the details about his severance package, contract terms and any nondisclosure agreement,” Ananich said in a statement. “Make no mistake, this announcement today was not motivated by what is best for the children — it was about saving face for the politicians who are worried about what he might reveal under oath.”

Those who have watched Earley’s catastrophic career in Michigan as he made a critical decision that resulted in the poisoning of Flint’s drinking water and showed callous disregard about the deplorable conditions in many DPS schools have called for him to be removed from his position for months. While his departure will do little to solve DPS’s problems, we can at least hope that the next person in that position isn’t so cavalier about what students and teachers are living with every day and that he or she will be proactive in making things right.

One thing to note: If Gov. Snyder replaces Darnell Earley as the DPS Emergency Manager, the two year clock resets and the school system could be under the next overseer for at least two more years. Because that’s how it works in Michigan: Emergency Managers may only stay in place for two years. However, a loophole allows them to be replaced shortly before their tenure expires which adds two more years to timeline.