Detroit Board of Education member Marvis Cofield has resigned from the board, effective Monday.
In a letter to Board President Carla D. Scott, Cofield wrote that he was resigning due to personal and professional obligations.
Cofield, who was appointed to the Board of Education in 1999 and elected as the District 7 representative in 2006, had once been an educator at Kettering High School. He is currently founder and CEO and board member of Alkebulan Village, which receives payment to provide tutoring to DPS students.
This led the Michigan Dept. of Education to rule two months ago that Cofield had a conflict of interest and could not serve on both boards simultaneously.
“I’m sorry to see him go,” said Scott. “He was a great asset to the school board. He’s been a wonderful colleague and mentor, and I think it’s a great loss to the city.”
In 1978, Cofield, a 7th degree black belt, established the Alkebu-lan Martial Arts Federation with the goal of providing African-American youth with affordable martial arts training.
As the program widened its focus to also include leadership training, homework assistance, sports and fitness, community service, and more, it subsequently developed in to the Alkebu-lan Village, located at 7701 Harper. “Alkebu-lan” is Swahili for “Africa.” The focus of the Village is community involvement and character building.
Cofield’s resignation comes at a time of upheaval for the school board. In June, the board sought a court order to prevent Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb from privatizing the management of most high schools in the district.
To that end, the board voted unanimously that Bobb must include the board in any academic decisions. Bobb had previously announced that management of 17 of the district’s 22 high schools would be managed by four companies, a decision board members say exceeded his purview.
According to reports, Bobb dismissed the board’s claim as “ridiculous.”
Last month, the board voted against a sevenpoint plan Bobb had put forth as a means of improving communications, leaving the door open for the board to continue to seek that court order.
Bobb, who was appointed to a one-year term in March, controls the district’s $1.2 billion budget, has had a contentious relationship with the board, with Scott telling the Detroit News that the issue is Bobb not allowing board members to carry out their responsibilities.
This week, the board indicated its plans to file suit against Bobb in Wayne County Circuit Court, in an effort to force him to consult the board regarding district-related financial decisions. Scott has indicated the board wants clarification of the meaning of “consult,” as defined by state law.
Cofield indicated in his resignation letter that he remains steadfast in his personal commitment to the community and its children. He also said he will increase Alkebu-lan Village’s commitment to community involvement and character building, in both youth and adults.