Gov. Rick Snyder appoints former Detroit bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes to lead Detroit Public Schools

Transition manager needed as Legislature works on sustainable, effective solution for Detroit students 

Feb. 29, 2016

LANSING, Mich. – Retired Judge Steven Rhodes will become transition manager of Detroit Public Schools as state lawmakers work on legislation to improve academics and finances in the state’s largest district, helping the city’s students and their families, Gov. Rick Snyder said.

“Legislative action is essential to help Detroit Public Schools address the challenges that are holding the district and its students back,” Snyder said. “Judge Rhodes was a natural choice. He is highly respected in the city and was invaluable in leading Detroit out of bankruptcy. Detroit needs strong public schools for the city’s economic comeback to continue through its neighborhoods.”

Rhodes will oversee the district’s finances and operations, and is working to name an interim superintendent to oversee the improvement of academics as soon as possible.

The Detroit Public Schools face a financial emergency because of crushing debt. The district has about $515 million in operating debt, and is spending approximately $1,100 per student on debt service annually.

“We want to make sure the district’s resources are best spent in the classroom helping students and teachers,” Rhodes said. “The district has great challenges ahead, but we can work together to face them and help Detroit students get the education they need to reach their potential.”

As a bankruptcy judge for the Eastern District of Michigan, Rhodes was widely praised by legal observers for how he handled the Detroit bankruptcy case in 2013, the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Rhodes also served on the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the Sixth Circuit. His undergraduate degree is from Purdue University. He formerly served as a law clerk for District Judge John Feikens, as an assistant U.S. attorney, and as a U.S. magistrate. He also taught at University of Michigan Law School from 1992-2002.