16 schools run by the district are among 38 statewide that have been threatened with closure because of poor performance.
The Detroit school board has voted unanimously to sue the state of Michigan to prevent it from closing any of the district's struggling schools.
The Detroit Free Press reports that the lawsuit is likely to be filed this week against the state School Reform Office, the state of Michigan and Natasha Baker, the school reform officer.
In January, the reform office identified 38 schools for potential closure because they have ranked in the bottom 5 percent academically for three straight years. Of the 38, 25 are in Detroit — 16 in the Detroit district, eight in the Education Achievement Authority and one charter school.
Detroit district officials argue that when state's school overhaul plan created the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) in 2016, it would not be subject to immediate threats of closure from state officials.
"We believe the legislation that created DPSCD in 2016 gave us a clean slate, which means under the law, our district is entitled to operate schools for at least three years without even the threat of closure," School Board President Iris Taylor says. "This issue and others must be resolved because our parents and children deserve stability. We cannot be expected to grow and improve if the threat of closure looms over us at the start of every school year. Detroiters deserve certainty."
The Michigan Department of Education has said it is willing to hold off on closures and and work with affected districts to turn the schools around.
Detroit Interim Superintendent Alycia Meriweather says the district is interested in entering into an agreement with the education department and is planning to schedule a meeting soon. But the board still is moving forward with the lawsuit.
Kalamazoo Public Schools and Saginaw Public Schools also have sued the state of Michigan over the potential school closures.