Michigan Public Schools Discovers New Reason for Selling School to the Islamic Cultural Association – It was Intimidated

Farmington (Michigan) Public Schools (FPS) came up with a new, never before mentioned reason, for its secret back room, no bid sale of Eagle Elementary school to the Islamic Cultural Center (ICA). In a letter to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette dated August 8, 2012, school superintendent Susan H. Zurvalec claimed the District was afraid of being sued by the Islamic Cultural Association.

“Rejection of the ICA offer on the basis of religious affiliation could also have exposed the District to liability under the federal statute prohibiting land use regulations on the basis of religious denomination.”

Unbelievably, FPS is now defending its refusal to consider several other potential buyers, including a Christian church and Jewish learning institution, on the grounds it did not want to be sued for religious discrimination by the Muslim buyer—the Islamic Cultural Association.

FPS’s latest contortion is in response to the Thomas More Law Center’s request that the Michigan Attorney General empanel a Citizens Grand Jury to pierce the fog of corruption that has descended on the back room manipulated sale of Eagle Elementary school to the ICA.

Reacting to the latest FPS explanation of its secret dealings with the ICA, Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center observed: “If this wasn’t such a serious matter, their new reason is laughable. It reminds me of Saturday Night Live character Tommy Flanagan, played by Jon Lovitz. Every time Flanagan got caught in a lie, he would construct a new one using the catch phrase, ‘Yeah! That’s the ticket!’”

Continued Thompson, “Clearly, a series of factors point to wrong doing by the Farmington Public Schools which demands a Grand Jury investigation to get at the truth. I would think that the FPS board would also want such an investigation just to clear the air. The public deserves to know the whole truth.”

While FPS’s new reason is premised on its reluctance to reject the ICA’s offer “on the basis of religious affiliation,” it had no such fear of a religious discrimination lawsuit or compunction in turning down a Christian church, Light of the World Christian Center, and a Jewish institution, Congregation Mesivta (which subsequently purchased a less desirable piece of property for over $1 million).

Several facts point to a backroom deal with the Islamic Cultural Association:

  • Two FPS Board members accepted campaign contributions from known leaders of ICA.
  • FPS ignored the recommendations of its own specially convened committee NOT TO SELL EAGLE.
  • FPS never listed the property, never retained a broker, never advertised the sale or otherwise engaged the market, as recommended by its own legal counsel and others.
  • FPS repeatedly turned away parties wanting to purchase Eagle Elementary.
  • FPS violated the Open Meetings Act by going into closed session to discuss the sale of Eagle.
  • FPS never notified the public that the vote to sell Eagle was to take place until the public learned about this in the local newspaper.
  • An earlier statement published on the FPS website enumerated several reasons it would not consider closing Eagle Elementary, including the considerable transportation costs that would result from redistricting.

    One thing is certain, as public servants and stewards of taxpayer property, FPS failed in its obligations to the students and the public.

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