Detroit's leaders worry about who is buying the city's vacant school buildings

DETROIT (WXYZ) - We've been telling you about vacant Detroit Public Schools in a state of disrepair - buildings sitting open, vulnerable to thieves and vandals.

The school district is trying to sell more than 80 properties and some Detroit City council members are worried about who might be buying them.

While Detroit City Council members have no authority over DPS, as elected leaders they have a stake in what happens in the city's neighborhoods.

So when it comes to selling vacant properties, they don't want to just see them go to the highest bidder, but the best bidder.

Members of Detroit City council's public health and safety standing committee are so concerned about the state of vacant DPS schools, they put the issue on today's agenda. Jack Martin, the school district's emergency manager, was scheduled to be there, but was a no show due to a scheduling conflict. 

Council members choose to move forward with a resolution urging the Detroit Public School district to reevaluate and rebid the proposed sales of former public school buildings and real property. Specifically, the resolution addresses two vacant schools: the former Burton School in Corktown and Barbour Middle school near Indian Village.

The Detroit School District released the following statement regarding the issue:

Detroit Public Schools did receive a request last week to attend today's session of Detroit City Council regarding its real estate/property sales processes and procedures. In response, and because EM Jack Martin is singularly focused on addressing the serious issues that face the district, Mr. Martin felt it was more appropriate to provide City Council with a host of pertinent information, including DPS' Real Estate Procedures Manual which was developed earlier this year and outlines how DPS handles the sale of its property. He also shared information on a new Real Estate Transaction Review Committee that includes senior staff from DPS' Finance, Legal, Facilities, Strategy and Academic Departments, and two members of the Detroit Board of Education. This information was shared via email with City Council last week. Mr. Martin is confident that the processes and procedures in place are appropriate and objective and will assist the District in making the best possible decisions that are free of any bias or influence, as it relates to any and all property sales.

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