August 19, 2014

Contents of this issue:

  • Court: MDE can charge districts for inaccurate student counts
  • Nonprofit calls for mayoral control of Detroit schools
  • White students no longer majority in public schools
  • MDE threatens to block charter authorizers from opening schools
  • Livonia Public Schools’ actions draw criticism

Court: MDE Can Charge Districts For Inaccurate Student Counts

LANSING, Mich. – Under a new state Court of Appeals ruling, the Michigan Department of Education can audit and fine school districts suspected of submitting inaccurate student counts, Michigan Information & Research Service News reports (subscription required).

MDE had previously taken back a combined $2.25 million from two school districts that had submitted incorrect student counts, according to MIRS News. The districts, Galien Township and Delton-Kellogg, were fined $750,000 and $1.75 million, respectively, MIRS News reports.
According to MIRS, the state had checked the accuracy of student counts after both districts admitted student attendance had been reported inaccurately.

SOURCE: Michigan Information & Research Service, “Court Affirms State Can Retroactively Audit, Adjust School Aid,” Aug. 15, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Count Day Could Become an Outdated Gimmick,” Sept. 11, 2012 

Nonprofit Calls for Mayoral Control of Detroit Schools

DETROIT – Excellent Schools Detroit, a coalition of Detroit school advocates, is urging wide sweeping centralization of all Detroit public schools, the Detroit Free Press reports.

According to the Free Press, Excellent Schools Detroit suggests that the Detroit mayor should have the ability to open and close conventional and charter public schools.
The plan includes citywide transportation for students, and would assign students a random lottery number in order to determine school enrollment, the Free Press reports.
John Roach, spokesman for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, told the Free Press that the mayor is not interested in running Detroit Public Schools, and is focused on other city issues.

SOURCE: The Detroit Free Press, “Education coalition: Centralize Detroit’s public school system,” Aug. 16, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Detroit Parents Comparison Shop for Schools,” Feb. 11, 2011 

White Students No Longer Majority in Public Schools

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This coming school year, U.S. public schools will enroll more minority students than Caucasian students — a first, according to The Detroit News.

The News reports that Caucasian students will represent approximately 49.8 percent of public school enrollment. Much of the minority student enrollment growth comes from increasing Hispanic populations, according to The News.
The changing public school population means that school officials will have to adapt to new student needs, The News reports, including more students who are learning English as a second language, and more students who come from poverty backgrounds.

SOURCE: The Detroit News, “White students to no longer be majority at school,” Aug. 10, 2014
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Report, “Public school eases immigrant’s transition," April 25, 2001 

MDE Threatens to Block Charter Authorizers from Opening Schools

LANSING, Mich. – State Superintendent Mike Flanagan is threatening to stop 11 public charter school authorizers from allowing new schools, The Detroit News reports.

Flanagan told The News that he is focusing on authorizers “who aren’t measuring up…”
However, charter school and authorizer representatives strongly contest Flanagan’s decision, and question whether he has legal authority to stop authorizers from allowing new schools, The News eports.
Jared Burkhart, executive director of the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers, told The News that Flanagan and the Michigan Department of Education have failed to provide specific information as to why the 11 authorizers were rated poorly.
“He has failed to provide the authorizers or the public with the specific criteria data used to rate the authorizers in his new secret rating system,” Burkhart told The News.
“[This move] is a finger in the eye of the Legislature and the Governor who wrote and signed one of the nation’s toughest charter school laws in 2012,” Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, told The News.

SOURCE: The Detroit News, “Michigan threatens to suspend 11 charter school authorizers,” Aug. 11, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Flanagan Goes too Far on Charter Schools, Aug. 11, 2014