Kent County School Districts Sued For Privatization Language

Mackinac Center Legal Foundation Files Suit Against 10 Kent County School Districts, KCEA, on Behalf of Taxpayers

Suit seeks to purge illegal “no-privatization” contract language

MIDLAND — Patrick J. Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, today announced a lawsuit against nine Kent County school districts, the Kent Intermediate School District and the Kent County Education Association for illegal “no-privatization” language contained in their collective bargaining agreements. Wright filed the suit at the 17th Circuit Court in Grand Rapids on behalf of five Kent County taxpayers.

“Michigan law could not be more clear in prohibiting school districts from bargaining away their right to privatize non-instructional services,” said Wright. “Lawmakers intended for school boards to have the flexibility to manage their budgets effectively. By including this illegal language, these districts are locking in the expenditure of millions of dollars in taxpayer money that could otherwise be saved through privatization.”

An analysis by James Hohman, fiscal policy analyst with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, found that if the involved school districts were to privatize food, custodial and transportation services that have not already been contracted out, the savings would be at least $6.9 million in the first year alone.

The illegal language is the same in all 10 district contracts: “All districts agree not to privatize any KCEA/MEA unionized services for the life of this agreement.” Wright pointed out that this language is directly contrary to Public Act 112 of 1994.

“These school districts are willing to break the law to appease the union at the expense of both children and taxpayers,” said Wright. “Our clients felt that absent a legal challenge, this agreement will likely become permanent, hamstringing future boards and harming students.”

The school districts named in the suit are Kent Intermediate School District, Byron Center, Comstock Park, Godfrey Lee, Godwin Heights, Grandville, Kenowa Hills, Lowell, Northview and Rockford.

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