Community outrage in Highland Park

(WXYZ) - Residents in Highland Park are fed up with the way the district's emergency manager is handling business.

This morning they took to the streets in an effort to make their voices heard.  Deblon Jackson lives in the community.  She's upset with the fact that thousands of books were thrown out.

"They were thrown away because they were told they could not house them so they dumped them without even asking anyone," Jackson said.

She says had they asked they would've likely found people ready and willing to make a home for the books. 

"We want to share these books and have a community center where the young people and the old people can come and look at some of these artifacts because these books were rare books that cannot be found that are out of publish now," Jackson said speaking out of frustration.

She was one of dozens that were protesting what Emergency Manager Dr. Donald Weatherspoon is calling a mistake.  A mistake he takes full responsibility for.

"It was a mistake and I am the one accountable for it," said Dr. Weatherspoon.

"They're dumped.  Our deficit is $19-million dollars.  We are charging him with malicious destruction," Linda Wheeler tells Action News.  Wheeler is the chair of the Citizens for Highland Park.  "We are charging him with malicious destruction.  It's a crime.  Children need books."

At one point during their protest people gathered in the street attempting to block cars.  When that didn't work they positioned their cars in a line blocking all lanes of traffic across Woodward at pilgrim.

The group was also upset because private payroll information could also be found in a dumpster too.

7 Action News spoke to Dr. Weatherspoon Monday morning who said the district was trying to consolidate files and used an outside contractor to do it.

"A workman got into a room and made the mistake of removing some files he wasn't supposed to but I can't blame the workman," said Dr. Weatherspoon.  "It was a mistake."

According to Dr. Weatherspoon, when he took over the school district in October of last year there was a deficit of $16,000,000.

He told 7 Action News since then, he discovered the district owned at least an additional $3,000,000 in unpaid bills.

Dr. Weatherspoon hopes to present a financial plan soon.

 

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