Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan went too far in his quest to retain Detroit school students when he blocked a neighboring district from taking out ads on DDOT buses, a new federal lawsuit alleges.
The Detroit News reports the suit, filed on behalf of by River Rouge school officials, alleges Detroit breached an advertising contract with the district and violated its right to free speech. It names as defendants Duggan, Detroit's Department of Transportation and advertising company Outfront Media. The breach of contract reportedly resulted in $5 million in damages, to the district the lawsuit says.
According to the complaint, the district inked a deal in June with Outfront to run 230 advertisements posters on the back of DDOT buses from July 8 through Sept. 1.
On July 3, however, an Outfront employee emailed Coleman saying that the contact could not be performed as agreed to and that the district's ads wouldn't be displayed on the DDOT buses because "the mayor of Detroit has decided for DDOT to run only Detroit Public Schools advertising on the buses," the lawsuit alleges.
A DDOT official called the claims "utter nonsense." Duggan's office declined comment.
The city's beleagured school district has hemorrhaged student in recent years — losing them to charters and suburban districts. Approximately 30,000 Detroit kids attend school outside of the city.
Duggan attempted to address the issue last year with the creation of the GOAL line, a bus system that shuttles kids from schools in northwest Detroit to an afterschool activities center. The pilot program brought just 33 new students to the district.