At its Monday meeting, the Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education passed a resolution opposing the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI). The MCRI, a controversial ballot initiative that bans affirmative action, has drawn considerable criticism recently in Grand Rapids. A hearing held by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission in the Board’s chambers in May featured hundreds of residents who claimed that they had been fraudulently approached to sign the petition, with testimony from the Grand Rapids and three other hearings held around the state, resulting in the Civil Rights Commission releasing a report documenting widespread and systematic fraud in the campaign to place the MCRI on the ballot. The board members unanimously (with the exception of Jim Rinck who was absent) pass the a resolution reading:
WHEREAS, the Board of Education of the Grand Rapids Public Schools stands firm in its dedication to support programs to advance equal opportunity and access for women and minorities in public education, contracting, and employment; and
WHEREAS, the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI) is attempting to ban affirmative action and equal opportunity programs throughout the State of Michigan; and
WHEREAS, the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative has used questionable means in gathering signatures to support their aim to put the Initiative on the November 2006 Michigan ballot;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the Grand Rapids Public Schools hereby urges the Governor, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, and other appropriate agencies to decline placing the MCRI proposal on the November ballot.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board of Education will continue to support voluntary public-sector affirmative action programs in education, contracting, and employment.
Organizers with the Detroit-based group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) were present at the meeting and argued in favor of the resolution’s passage. Heather Miller thanked the board for bringing up the resolution and emphasized that widespread voter fraud was found in the campaign to get the MCRI on the ballot, while Tristan Taylor reminded the Board that the Michigan Civil Rights Commission is calling on the Michigan Supreme Court and Attorney General to act to stop the MCRI. Various members of the board then responded that the believe equal opportunity is necessary for a just society and that the Board is of the position that the MCRI must be removed from the November ballot. As part of ongoing organizing efforts to this end, BAMN is encouraging people to send a fax to various state elected officials and candidates urging them to speak out against both the MCRI and the fraud documented by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.