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October 06, 2011 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2011-10-06

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13151 W. 10 Mile Rd.
Oak Park, MI 48237
PH (248) 546-4400

Sale prices are in effect Thursday, October 6th to Monday, October, 17th

(1*- 0*

A judge dismissed a'lavirsuit seeking

to halt the sale of Eagle Elementary

School to the Islamic Cultural

Association of Franklin.

Eagle Sale Challengers Lose
in Court, But File Appeal


Plaintiffs had no standing to contest
sale of Farmington school, judge rules.

Don Cohen
Contributing Writer


ix days after an Oakland
County Circuit Court Judge
ruled that the plaintiffs in a
lawsuit to halt the closing of the sale of
the former Eagle Elementary School in
West Bloomfield to the Islamic Cultural
Association (ICA) of Franklin didn't
have standing to bring the suit, an
appeal was filed to move the case for-
On Sept. 21, Judge Rae Lee Chabot
dismissed the lawsuit brought by
Eugene Greenstein and Melvyn C.
Sternberg against the Farmington Public
Schools and its board of education.
Without taking a position on the mer-
its of the issues raised in the suit, she
accepted the defense argument that the
plaintiffs couldn't bring it because they
would not be impacted differently by the
sale than their neighbors.
On Sept. 27, an appeal was filed.
"If a taxpayer does not have stand-
ing in court to address a failure of an
elected body to follow their bylaws
then there are no checks and balances','
Greenstein said.
"What is there to prevent a govern-
ment body from breaking the rules?"
"It's not about whether the ICA can
buy it," he continued. "They can. It's
about the rules and whether the school
board followed them. They deceived the
public all the way."
"We are pleased by the decision of
the court in supporting the sale of
this property," said Farmington Public
Schools Assistant Superintendent of
Support Services David C. Ruhland in a
statement before the appeal was filed.
"To avoid the cost of demolition and
to obtain more than $1 million at a time
when the district is facing shrinking
revenues and rising costs can only be
seen as a positive for our district and
the community we serve:' he said.

For its part, the school board con-
tinues to insist that they followed all
applicable rules and procedures, but
also took action at its Sept. 13 board
meeting to retroactively ensure that it
had done so.
A resolution stated in part, "to the
extent that any action taken by this
Board ... conflicts with its resolution
approving the sale of the Eagle property
to the ICA, such action is hereby amend-
ed to the extent of such conflict."
The resolution was included in court
documents submitted Sept. 19 by the
district's attorneys at Plunkett Cooney
with their argument stating in bold,
underlined type, "the board has rectified
these purported violations of the bylaws
and parliamentary rules, thus, eliminat-
ing any basis for relief."
Sara Roediger, senior planner for
West Bloomfield Township where the
property is located, told the IN in August
that ICA's plans for the property would
require approval by its planning com-
mission and board of trustees. Each of
these meetings would be preceded by
public hearings.
Because none of these have taken
place, for the sale to proceed the ICA
would either have to purchase the
property by Oct. 14 without going to
the township, or ask the FPS board
to extend the 120-day period it had
allowed for finalizing the sale.
Anticipating the need for an exten-
sion requested by the ICA or because
the suit would be in litigation, the FPS
board approved Sept. 13 a resolution
authorizing district staff to negotiate an
extension if the sale is still in litigation.
If there is no litigation, the board would
have to vote to extend the time period
allowed the ICA.
The board was to have met this past
Tuesday, Oct. 4, and is scheduled to meet
Oct. 18 and Nov. 1.A Nov. 8 election will
decide who will fill four of the seats on
the seven-member board. II

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October 6 2011 11

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