Danielle Smith with her basketball team.
Danielle Smith has attended private schools her entire academic career, but next year
the 13-year-old student is looking forward to attending Brighton High School, part of the
Brighton Area Schools public school district.
Danielle's parents, Dan and Cheryl Smith, believe the public school will meet their
daughter's needs better than other schools. "Although Danielle's private education
has served her well, we believe that Brighton would be the best school for her next
year," said Mrs. Smith.
Danielle's success both in and out of the classroom is a major part of her parents'
decision to choose a public high school for her. She maintains a 3.8 grade point average
while enthusiastically pursuing outside activities from drama and dance to cheerleading
"We have looked at high-quality parochial schools such as Mercy Catholic High
School in Farmington Hills and Gabriel Richard in Ann Arbor, but we're very pleased with
what we've seen at Brighton," said Mrs. Smith. "We believe Brighton High School
can best meet all of Danielle's academic and extracurricular needs next year."
Another reason for the Smiths' choice of public education is that they feel a close
attachment to the Brighton community. "Since preschool, Danielle has attended schools
in the area. We go to church in Brighton; we shop in Brighton; our lives are in
Brighton," said Mrs. Smith. "All the schools we've looked at are good, but
Brighton is close to home."
There is one problem that may complicate the Smiths' choice of public school: The
family lives one half-mile outside the Brighton school district boundary. In fact, the
Smiths' home is also outside of the larger Livingston Intermediate School District (ISD),
of which Brighton is a part.
Under Michigan's public schools-of-choice program, begun in 1996, families can more
easily select among a range of public schools for their children instead of being forced
to enroll them only in the school assigned to them by their home district. In order to
exercise this choice, however, families must secure the approval of the school officials
in both their home ISD and the ISD where they wish their child to attend school.
For Danielle to attend Brighton, she must be given a release of $5,957 in state
foundation grant money from the Huron Valley Schools, part of the Oakland ISD and where
the Smiths reside, before the Livingston ISD will consider allowing Danielle to attend
Brighton High School.
The Smiths are encouraged that school officials seem inclined to approve the Smiths'
choice of school and that the family may not have to resort to extreme measures so
Danielle can attend public school in Brighton.
"If either district refuses our request, the only way Danielle could attend
Brighton High School would be for us to relocate our residence or to grant limited
guardianship to a family friend," said Mrs. Smith. Limited guardianship means that the Smiths must agree to legally transfer to another party some of their parental
rights involving Danielle.
"While we don't like either of those options, we want our daughter to have the
best education possible and we would be willing to do whatever it takes," she said.
At press time, Huron Valley and Brighton officials were working with the Smiths to
ensure that Danielle can attend Brighton High School next year.