Roy Roberts, the emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools (DPS), announced Thursday morning he will step down from his position. According to a Detroit Free Press article, he also revealed that when he first entered his job in 2011, he was told to "blow up the district and dismantle it." However, the online version of that article has since been revised and no longer includes such comments.
As the city's emergency school manager, Roberts superseded the school board and had almost complete control over the district, including its finances and hiring practices. As outlined in a 1998 Michigan law, the governor can appoint emergency school managers whenever a district is in a financial crisis. A new emergency manager has not yet been appointed to replace Roberts.
Roberts told The Detroit News that he would be going into retirement after May 16, when his contract expires. He noted that the district’s financial situation improved under his tenure and that its deficit should be eliminated by the 2015-2016 school year –- a goal that was a top priority of his.
“As far as I am concerned, this district is fixed,” said Roberts in an announcement, per M Live. “I can’t think of many things I would have done differently. We changed the culture here."
During a closed meeting with union and school board members Thursday morning, Roberts spoke of his time with the district, according to the original version of the Detroit Free Press article. The outlet published a surprising anecdote from the meeting, in which Roberts reportedly told those present that he was instructed to "blow up" the school district and dramatically revamp it when he first started the job. The paper deleted that passage Thursday night without providing a clarification.
Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson, who was present at the meeting when Roberts announced his resignation, told the Detroit News that Roberts had been instructed to gut the school district: "There were those in Lansing that wanted him to blow this district up, and he thought about the kids and the impact upon them, so he decided rather than to blow it up to fix it up.”
Roberts released to The Huffington Post a statement clarifying the comments published in the earlier version of the Detroit Free Press' article. Claiming that his words from the meeting had been "mischaracterized," Robert said in his statement:
It is unfortunate that comments I made this morning during a meeting with members of the Detroit School Board and presidents of our school unions to inform them of my decision to retire are being completely mischaracterized. At no point did I say that Gov. Snyder or his administration had instructed me to dismantle Detroit Public Schools. … Over the last two years, Gov. Snyder and his administration have never wavered in their support of me, my team, this system and most importantly, the children of Detroit.
Roberts, a former General Motors executive, was appointed DPS emergency manager by Governor Rick Snyder in 2011. He did not come into his position at an easy time: The Detroit Public School system had a $327 million deficit, and schools were suffering from declining enrollment. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in 2009 had called the city “ground zero” for education reform.
Secretary Duncan took a more optimistic view of DPS in 2011, after Michigan created a state-run district to handle the region’s lowest-performing schools. Roberts was heavily involved in that initiative, which is called the state’s Education Achievement System.
"Can Detroit become the fastest-improving urban district in the country?" Duncan asked during his 2011 visit to Michigan, The Huffington Post reported at the time. "I see no reason why that can't happen."
Roberts’ authority was called into question for a time, when a voter referendum repealed Public Act 4, a law that reinforced the emergency schools manager's powers. However, soon after the act was repealed, Governor Snyder signed a new law that restored Roberts’ powers.
Detroit Free Press columnist Stephen Henderson reflected in a column Thursday night on what Roberts’ retiring meant for the DPS. Though he lamented that DPS is in an overall dismal state, Henderson also said he does not blame Roberts "for where we are."
“[Roberts] says the district is a few years away from alleviating the financial emergency that precipitated an emergency manager in the first place,” wrote Henderson. “And what will remain once that happens? The district is in such a shambles already that it’s hard to imagine what will be left.”
Though Roberts walks away leaving an empty chair behind him, DPS Chief Financial Officer William Aldridge was promoted to Financial and Administrative Officer to ensure stability during the transition period.
Earlier on HuffPost:
A <a href="http://thestir.cafemom.com/teen/136092/state_senate_declares_holding_hands" target="_hplink">bill passed in Tennessee earlier this year declared hand-holding</a> a 'gateway sexual activity,' with teachers facing firing for even demonstrating the action.
Surprisingly, the ban on hugging isn't a one-off rule at a select school, but a trend that seems to be spreading. Schools in <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/03/new-jersey-school-bans-hugging/" target="_hplink">Portland and Florida started instituting these rules</a> in 2010, while administrations in New Jersey, Brooklyn and <a href="http://thedailyedge.thejournal.ie/new-zealand-school-bans-hugging-448032-May2012/" target="_hplink">New Zealand took it upon themselves in 2012</a>. For all, the reasoning appears to be the same: Respecting personal space and "unsuitable interactions" between students.
At <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/3964683/Marking-in-red-ink-banned-in-case-it-upsets-schoolchildren.html" target="_hplink">schools in both Australia and the U.K</a>., green ink has replaced red ink in marking children's paper because of its 'confrontational' nature.
Due to its "aggressive" nature, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2001/05/06/us/increasingly-schools-move-to-restrict-dodgeball.html" target="_hplink">dodgeball has been banned in schools across North America</a>, as it's frequently named the cause of injuries and fights. Adult dodgeball, on the other hand, <a href="http://www.thendl.com/" target="_hplink">has been enjoying a continued popularity</a>.
You'd think, with all the talk about childhood obesity these days, schools would be encouraging students to ride their bikes or skateboards to school. One New York <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,559460,00.html" target="_hplink">said it was illegal for kids to have bikes</a>, while another Orthodox school <a href="http://www.yourjewishnews.com/Pages/20640.aspx" target="_hplink">disagreed with the freedom afford by the two wheels</a>.
There's plenty of debate about the best possible bookbag for kids -- but one school in Michigan doesn't allow bags into the classroom at all. Citing safety concerns in lunchrooms and classes, <a href="http://www.mlive.com/news/jackson/index.ssf/2009/09/no-backpack_policy_challenged.html" target="_hplink">the high school asked students to keep returning to their lockers between classes</a> to retrieve the appropriate books.
There have been many toy bans in schools, but Pogs -- those tradeable metal disks -- made a huge splash when t<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1995/03/22/us/to-end-pog-fights-schools-ban-game.html" target="_hplink">heir safety, and the competitive rush spurred by their very existence</a>, was called into question by schools around the world.
Though later overturned, a Massachusetts school attempted to <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/story/2012-05-11/Mass-schools-bake-sale-ban/54902332/1" target="_hplink">ban bake sales on the basis of their lack of nutrition</a>.
In Ohio earlier this year, a 13-year-old boy <a href="http://mitchieville.com/2012/03/27/goth-child-banned-from-wearing-make-up-to-school-goths-mom-to-sue/" target="_hplink">was sent home from school because of his black lipstick, eye makeup and nail polish</a> (boy is not shown here). The school claimed it had <a href="http://jezebel.com/5055243/boys-makeup-gets-him-banned-from-school-what-lesson-does-he-learn" target="_hplink">a rule against "extreme or distracting" makeup</a>.
An Ottawa school banned yoga pants last year -- <a href="http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/11/30/no-yoga-pants-unless-theyre-covred-up-ottawa-school-reminds-students/" target="_hplink">unless the tight bottoms were covered up with long shirts</a>.
Silly Bandz are fun! Silly Bandz are cute! Silly Bandz are, apparently, a distraction in the classroom and should not be permitted. <a href="http://theweek.com/article/index/203529/the-ridiculous-silly-bandz-ban" target="_hplink">Schools all over North America have banned these collectables from class</a>, but that sure doesn't keep them from getting trading at recess.
No more BFFs for you, British kids! At a few U.K. schools, <a href="http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/4203460/Schools-ban-children-making-best-friends.html" target="_hplink">teachers are preventing children from making "best friends"</a> in an attempt to save others' feelings.
Milk was always seen as part of a wholesome school lunch, but now a group of doctors wants it off the menu entirely. A vegan and physician group in the U.S. is pushing a petition to get rid of milk in schools, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/25/ban-milk-from-school-lunc_n_1703406.html" target="_hplink">due to it being "...high in sugar, high in fat and high in animal protein that is harmful to, rather than protective of, bone health</a>."
Well, not dinosaurs <i>exactly</i>, but the word dinosaur, in addition to other words like "poverty," "birthdays," "Halloween," and "dancing," which <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/26/new-york-city-bans-refere_n_1380991.html" target="_hplink">might elicit "unpleasant emotions" in students.</a>
It might get chilly in Pennsylvania, but students there won't be allowed to wear their sheepskin Ugg boots into class, <a href="http://ca.shine.yahoo.com/ugg-boots-banned-in-school--education-crisis-solved-.html" target="_hplink">thanks to the potential for storing contraband like cell phones in the roomy footwear.</a>
You may have thought baggy pants were more of a '90s thing, but schools today are continuing to push for bans on the sagging pants, with <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2020259/Saggy-pants-ban-Florida-school-board-plan-new-rules-pupils-dress-code.html" target="_hplink">some schools claiming it interferes with learning</a>, and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/31/saggy-pants-ban-at-chicag_n_1559248.html" target="_hplink">others saying the style is related to gangs</a>.
And then there's the opposite end of the spectrum. Much like yoga pants, skinny jeans have been banned in schools all over the place, due to their lack of modesty and <a href="http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-03-22/news/31227071_1_dress-code-skinny-jeans-tv-station" target="_hplink">distraction factor for the opposite sex</a>.
It's physical and emotional injury teachers are attempting to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/14/education/14recess.html?_r=1&oref=slogin" target="_hplink">avoid by banning competitive games in schools and at recess</a>, goes the claim.
A Toronto school made headlines last year when it was announced it would ban hard balls from its premises, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/11/16/torontos-earl-beatty-school-ball-ban_n_1097594.html" target="_hplink">following a parent suffering a concussion after being hit by a ball</a>.
Grinch, much? We've all heard of holiday trees and all-encompassing December concerts, but <a href="http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/8389344/sydney-school-accused-of-stealing-christmas" target="_hplink">some schools have gone as far as banning references to Santa and carols, among other Christmas-oriented terms</a>.