NewsRoom
5:23 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Judge Says Local Review Teams Violated Open Meetings Law

An Ingham County judge has ruled that state-appointed review teams looking into the finances of the city if Detroit and the Highland Park school district broke Michigan’s open meetings law.  

As we hear from Michigan Public Radio’s Rick Pluta, the judge says review teams that can recommend state takeovers of local governments and school districts are public bodies that must operate in the public eye.

The ruling by Judge William Collette says the state needs to re-launch its review of the Highland Park school district, and do so in public. But there are no immediate plans to remove the state-appointed emergency manager who was placed in charge of the district two and a half weeks ago. The ruling also says future meetings of the Detroit review team – which has yet to make a recommendation -- must take place in public.

The lawsuit was filed by Highland Park school board member Robert Davis.

“This is a monumental victory for democracy,” he says.

It’s not clear what effect the ruling might have on the emergency managers already running four cities and the Detroit Public Schools. The state could appeal the ruling.

The emergency manager law is also facing a separate court challenge, as well as a petition drive that seeks to put a referendum on the November ballot.