Concerned over a lack of transparency from the state-run Education Achievement Authority, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan announced this week that it has filed a lawsuit against the controversial school district in an effort to learn details of the specific special-education services provided to district students under a multimillion-dollar deal between the EAA and Futures Education of Michigan.
"The district paid huge sums of taxpayer money to yet another for-profit company that promised to create plans to serve our most vulnerable children--but refuses to reveal those plans or report how successfully they've been implemented," said Ralph Simpson, a cooperating attorney with the ACLU of Michigan, which accused the EAA of violating the state Freedom of Information Act in its lawsuit in Wayne County Circuit Court last week. "Given the challenges already faced by special-education students, we think the public needs to know exactly how well and effectively the school district and Futures are serving our children."
The EAA struck the deal in 2012, paying out as much as $2 million a year for Futures' services. The deal ended prior to the start of the 2014-15 school year.
The suit is part of a litany of efforts by the ACLU of Michigan in recent years to raise the quality of education in the state's public schools. In 2012, the group filed a right-to-read lawsuit against the state and the Highland Park Public Schools after research showed that many students lacked fundamental reading skills. (The suit was dismissed, but the ACLU is seeking an appeal to the state Supreme Court.)
Last year, the ACLU of Michigan issued a report showing that the EAA also paid another for-profit company for flawed, experimental learning software that the district then essentially beta tested on Detroit students.
Read the FOIA complaint against the EAA
Read the amicus brief in the Highland Park right-to-read case
Read the motion to file the amicus brief in the Highland Park case
Read Dr. Elizabeth Moje’s expert report on Highland Park public schools