Contents of this issue:
  • DPS sues former employees for allegedly issuing illicit contracts
  • GVSU decides not to reauthorize Kalamazoo charter school
  • Court of Appeals sides with schools in reporting cost case
  • Student expelled after attack on freshman
  • Plainwell schools add hours for struggling students

DPS SUES FORMER EMPLOYEES FOR ALLEGEDLY ISSUING ILLICIT CONTRACTS
DETROIT — The Detroit Public Schools has filed a lawsuit against one of its former department managers for allegedly issuing more than $45 million in unauthorized contracts, according to The Detroit News.

The lawsuit claims that Stephen Hill, who managed the DPS' Risk Management Office from 2001 to 2007, established these contracts by ignoring accounting procedures and creating a computer system separate from the district's network. According to The News, the lawsuit also alleges that Hill received kickbacks and that the contracts in question produced few services in return for the school district's payments.

Hill's assistant at the time is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, according to The News. The News reported that no criminal charges had been filed at that time.

SOURCE:
The Detroit News, "Lawsuit: Former DPS employee created elaborate scheme to pay cronies," July 1, 2008
http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080701/METRO/ 807010424/1409/METRO

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Financial scandals exposed in Michigan school districts," Nov. 17, 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4835


GVSU DECIDES NOT TO REAUTHORIZE KALAMAZOO CHARTER SCHOOL
KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Grand Valley State University has declined to renew the charter of Kalamazoo's Advantage Academy, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette.

GVSU cites consistently poor performance and decreasing enrollment as reasons for closing the school. The Gazette reports that the school has met federal Annual Yearly Progress targets for the last two years, and that many believe it should stay open.

"I'd keep (the school) open," said Sharif Shakrani, co-director of Michigan State University's Center for Education Policy, according to the Gazette. "My analysis indicates they're making significant progress. ... Usually you would close a school when it's regressing, but this school is getting better, not worse." Shakrani developed an analysis of the school's progress that was "carefully reviewed" by the GVSU Charter School Office, according to Ed Richardson, the head of the office.

"Nothing in [that analysis] makes us think that our decision not to renew the contract was incorrect," Richardson said in an e-mailed statement, the Gazette reported.

SOURCE:
Kalamazoo Gazette, "Closing of Kalamazoo Advantage Academy a lesson in complexity of charter schools," July 4, 2008
http://blog.mlive.com/kzgazette/2008/07/closing_of_kalamazoo_advantage.html

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Charter Schools Don't Need More Michigan Department of Education 'Oversight,'" Aug. 12, 2003
http://www.mackinac.org/5670


COURT OF APPEALS SIDES WITH SCHOOLS IN REPORTING COST CASE
LANSING, Mich. — The state Court of Appeals ruled that state officials have been shortchanging school districts by not compensating them for changes in reporting requirements, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The judges unanimously ruled that the governor and Legislature violated the Headlee amendment to the Michigan Constitution by requiring districts to report more performance information without additional funding. The reporting changes add between $50 million and $100 million to local districts' costs annually, according to a lawyer who represented taxpayers from 460 Michigan school districts in the case.

SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "Court: Mich. Schools forced to bear reporting costs," July 7, 2008
http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080707/NEWS06/ 80707047

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Headlee Amendment: Serving Michigan for 25 years" Aug. 4, 2003
http://www.mackinac.org/5574


STUDENT EXPELLED AFTER ATTACK ON FRESHMAN
WAYLAND, Mich. — A student from Wayland Union High School was expelled for her alleged role in a videotaped attack of a freshman student, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette.

The Gazette reported that another freshman girl apparently participated in the attack, but that according to the district's superintendent, the girl could not be disciplined by the district because she had moved away. The two girls, however, have reportedly been charged with aggravated assault and could face one year in a juvenile detention center and $1,000 in fines. Police have also investigated the student who held the camera during the attack, the Gazette reported.

The 14-year-old victim was cut and bruised. According to the Gazette, suspects told the police they did not agree with her support for gay rights.

SOURCE:
Kalamazoo Gazette, "Wayland student expelled after attack on freshman," July 1, 2008
http://www.mlive.com/news/kzgazette/index.ssf?/base/news-29/1214923849 283690.xml&coll=7

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "The three P's of school safety: parents, prevention, and police," Nov. 1, 2000
http://www.educationreport.org/3134

PLAINWELL SCHOOLS ADD HOURS FOR STRUGGLING STUDENTS
PLAINWELL, Mich. — Dozens of Plainwell elementary school students who have trouble reading will come to school an hour early next fall, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Previously, students with reading competency problems were removed from class during science or social studies to work in small groups with reading instructors.

"There are some who thought this was an issue because the students were missing other opportunities," Curriculum Director Bob Van Dis told the Gazette. "Plus, these topics help the students develop reading fluency."

SOURCE:
Kalamazoo Gazette, "Schools add hours for reading help," July 5, 2008
http://www.mlive.com/news/kzgazette/index.ssf?/base/news-29/1215231616 149620.xml&coll=7

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Digest,"'Reading Recovery' is no such thing" April 25, 2001
http://www.educationreport.org/3430


MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (http://www.educationreport.org), an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (http://www.mackinac.org), a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Sarah Grether at
mailto:med@educationreport.org

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