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Snyder appoints Roy S. Roberts Detroit Public Schools emergency manager

May 4, 2011

Contact: Sara Wurfel
Office: 517-335-6397

LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Rick Snyder today announced the appointment of Roy S. Roberts as emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools. Roberts is managing director of private-equity investment firm Reliant Equity Investors, L.L.C. and is the former group vice president of North American Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing for General Motors Corporation. Roberts will transition into the role of emergency manager in the upcoming weeks.

"The number one priority is providing the children of the Detroit Public Schools with a quality education and for that to happen the school district must be financially sound," Snyder said. "Roy Roberts' problem solving skills, expertise and strong management and leadership skills will be of tremendous benefit to the students, teachers, administrators and families of the Detroit Public Schools."

The governor also thanked Robert Bobb for his work on behalf of the students and teachers of the Detroit Public Schools.

"While there is work that remains to be done, Robert Bobb has made the tough decisions over the years to try to improve the education system in Detroit," Snyder said.

In his special message to the Legislature on education reform last week, Snyder discussed the need for transparency, accountability and empowerment in the classroom, and noted 23 school districts in Michigan, including the Detroit Public School system, are more than $1 million in deficit. Combined, these financially distressed districts have an operating deficit of about $440 million. Students and families in these districts cannot wait for a long-term, viable education system.

A significant gap continues to exist in mathematics, reading, writing, science and social studies scores for students in the Detroit Public Schools compared to statewide scores. In Detroit, 80 percent of high schools fail to produce a single student with equivalent "college ready" scores on the ACT exam. The entering class at four-year colleges in Michigan has an average ACT score nearly 50 percent higher than the scores at Detroit high schools. While the four-year cohort graduation rates for Detroit Public Schools have increased from 58.42 percent in 2007 to 62.27 percent in 2010, it remains below the state average of 75.95 percent. Dropout rates for the 4-year cohort in Detroit Public Schools have decreased from 29.99 percent in 2007 to 19.09 percent in 2010, but remain above the statewide average of 11.07 percent.

"There is no assignment in the state of Michigan that is more meaningful to me than having the opportunity to offer leadership and help positively impact the students in the Detroit school system and their families and communities," Roberts said.

"Students are entitled to an education that enables them to learn at high levels and when they graduate they should be ready to enter the work force or attend college," said Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan. "Students in the Detroit Public Schools need and deserve every opportunity to succeed, and when that happens, it will benefit the entire state of Michigan."

As group vice president of North American Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing, Roberts was responsible for the $100 billion enterprise including vehicle sales, service and parts distribution in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. He enjoyed a nearly 40-year career in the auto industry, with more than 23 years at General Motors. He began his career at General Motors as a salaried employee-in-training in the Diesel Equipment Division and consistently gained greater responsibilities as plant manager, manufacturing manager, vice president and corporate office of General Motors Personnel Administration and Development Staff, vice president of the GMC Truck Division, vice president of Pontiac Car, and then vice president and general manager of Field Sales, Service and Parts for the Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing Group.

Roberts, the ninth of 10 children, was raised in West Michigan by his father after his mother died when he was two years old. He earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Western Michigan University and completed several graduate courses at Western Michigan University and Wayne State University. He completed the Executive Development Program at Harvard Graduate School of Business and the General Motors Advanced International General Management Program in Switzerland.

He is Trustee Emeritus at Western Michigan University and has served on the board of directors for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation, Abbott Laboratories and is currently on the board of Enova Corporation. He served as president of the national board of directors for the Boy Scouts of America and served as chairman of the 1997 National Scout Jamboree. He previously served as a board member of the Morehouse School of Medicine, president of the NAACP and on the national boards of the United Negro College Fund, the Aspen Institute, and the National Urban League.

Roberts has received numerous awards over the years including a Distinguished Service Citation from the Automotive Hall of Fame, being named "Executive of the Year" by Black Enterprise Magazine as well as "Automotive Executive of the Year" by African American on Wheels magazine. He was also presented with the American Success Award by President George H.W. Bush in 1989.

The Emergency Manager's role is to remedy the distress of the district by requiring prudent fiscal management and efficient provision of services by exercising the necessary authority conferred by the state to take appropriate action on behalf of the district and its students. The result for students should be an education that allows them to think and act innovatively, demonstrate high performance, and meet the highest expectations. In accepting this appointment, the emergency manager agrees to leverage all his skills and abilities to accomplish these objectives on behalf of students, parents, and citizens.