Detroit Public Schools emergency manager fires superintendent

Published On: Mar 28 2013 12:53:43 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 28 2013 05:19:16 PM EDT

Detroit Public Schools emergency manager Roy Roberts is making some big moves with his expanded powers.


Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts has fired the district's superintendent.

Roberts announced the move in a letter to employees, citing progress and large opportunities for the district.

READ: Roy Roberts' letter March 28

"Mr. Roberts basically told me, 'John, you're fired,'" said now former DPS superintendent John Telford.

Telford said Roberts met with him Wednesday, telling him there isn't room for two leaders.

"Well the superintendent just doesn't fit into the scheme that we have in place and all the improvements we've been making in the school system, it's become an irritant," Roberts said.

But Telford said he doesn't recognize Robert's authority.

"Because I am the superintendent of record. I am the board-appointed, duly appointed superintendent. I have a contract. That contract can't be terminated," Telford said. "And, we'll see him in court."

Roberts said Telford has a "good heart" but is not current on education.

The move comes as the tougher emergency manager law takes effect. Roberts is appointed by the state to help navigate the district out of debt and improve educational services.

Roberts also rescinded several of the Detroit School Board's decisions, including canceling employment contracts he didn't approve and turning down some academic changes.

Protests and lawsuits have surfaced over the emergency manager law in Michigan.

The Rev. Al Sharpton with the National Action Network was in Detroit Thursday protesting it.

"What Gov. Snyder has done is nullified the voters of this city and interposed his own will, something Dr. Martin Luther King spoke about 50 years ago this year," he said. "This is a local issue but a national struggle. Because, if you get away with it in Detroit, you can do it all over the nation."

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