DETROIT (WXYZ) - Detroit Public Schools put more than 80 vacant school buildings on the auction block this year, but they won’t be easy to sell.
The 7 Action News Investigators checked out each and every one and most are are in horrendous condition.
The district closed the schools when it ran into financial trouble. But it did not have the money to secure them.
Most have been open to scrappers and thieves, adding substantial blight to neighborhoods.
If the Detroit Public School’s plan to sell the buildings won’t work, what will? And who should be held accountable?
Cynthia Wright spent her elementary school years at Chandler Elementary school on Detroit's east side. Years later, so did June Riggins. There is no more music coming from the classroom on the end, or science being taught upstairs. The place where June, Cynthia and so many other kids were first exposed to education, sits abandoned. The school is just one of dozens in the same state of disrepair.
"We are probably the biggest owner of abandoned and blighted properties in the city." said Detroit Public School Board President LaMar Lemmons.
To find out just how bad the situation is, Action News visited every single school that has been closed in Detroit. All 82 of them. What we found is beyond shocking. On Detroit's east side, 33 schools have been closed. Twenty-two of them have been hit by scrappers or cracked open. Among them, Macomb Elementary on Evanston. Its windows are ripped out and the same thing happened at Grant Elementary on Stockton.
These are schools paid for with tax dollars. While the district is currently trying to sell the schools, it won't get top dollar for the ones in this condition. In the meantime, the buildings are cancers in their neighborhoods.
June Riggins said, "It makes you want to cry because the way the neighborhood is just going down."
When asked who is to blame, DPS School Board President LaMar Lemmons points the finger at the state's top political leader. "Ultimately, the Governor because the buck stops there." said Lemmons. "The emergency manager is only accountable to the Governor.
Jennifer Granholm ordered a takeover of DPS in 2009. Lemmons, and the school board, don't have any real power. The man in charge now is Emergency Manager Jack Martin.
"The governor and emergency manager operate in totality of each other, there are no checks and balances." said Lemmons.
It may be politics, but for June Riggins, it's personal. Chandler Elementary was her school, the heart of her neighborhood, and now it's gone. "I used to love this neighborhood." said Riggins. "I would love for them to at least come and board it up"
Detroit Public Schools released a statement outlining four big points.
They hope the city will give them money to knock down the worst schools.
They say efforts to sell buildings are gaining momentum.
They say law enforcement is cracking down on people who break into schools.
And they hope the new scrapping law will make a difference.
They say “this is an extremely difficult issue and not one that a single solution will solve.”