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Congressman John Conyers

Representing the 13th District of Michigan

Reps. Conyers, Scott and Lawrence on Unsafe Learning, Working Environment in Detroit Schools

February 9, 2016
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Ranking Member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Ranking Member of the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee and Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) today released the following statements after teachers at several Detroit Public Schools reported dangerous working and learning conditions:

Rep. John Conyers: “After what we have witnessed in Flint, Michiganders are rapidly losing whatever trust they had in their state government to protect them. We need transparency and a commitment to dialogue between the public and their elected—and appointed—officials in order to solve the problems we are facing. Against this backdrop, the apparent decision of the DPS emergency management team to block Detroit Federation of Teachers’ health inspectors—with threats of arrest no less—is a grave mistake.  Our educators and our children are subjected to learning in schools that are unsafe, unsanitary and unacceptable.  It is reprehensible to turn away free resources meant to help us solve these problems.  While Detroit Emergency Manager (EM) Earley, formerly Flint’s EM, made an abrupt decision to step down from his position last week, it appears he has not finished stonewalling those who want to get to the bottom of questions about public health and safety.  While the DPS emergency management team may—or may not—be within their authority to block these inspections, it is clearly wrong to prevent us from learning more about the deplorable conditions of our schools and how we can remedy them sooner, instead of continuing the gridlock.”

Rep. Bobby Scott: “Rat infestations, black mold, leaking roofs, and excessive heat and cold are not conditions conducive to teaching and learning in Detroit or anywhere else in our country. All students and school employees deserve a safe environment in which to learn and to work. Any health hazard that jeopardizes learning and working conditions is unacceptable. I look forward to working with my colleagues to support efforts that would ensure a long term sustainable solution to remediating the infrastructure issues in Detroit to ensure that we live up to the decision in Brown v. Board of Education and provide the students of Detroit and across the country an education that is ‘a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.”

Rep. Brenda Lawrence: “As someone who was born and raised in Detroit and educated in the Detroit Public School system, and as a former School Board President, I am horrified by the deplorable conditions our teachers and students have been subjected to. If we are to correct these conditions we cannot put up roadblocks to health inspectors who are trying to make sure our children are in a safe environment. This is about our investment in our children, in their education, and in their future. We must do whatever we can to ensure not one more child is exposed to these hazardous conditions.”