Detroit Prep students in their new building.
In 2017, a co-founder of Detroit Achievement Academy, a public charter school, wanted to purchase a new building for a second school, Detroit Prep, which was growing rapidly. A nearby school building was vacant, but there was one problem. The previous owner, Detroit Public Schools Community District, had placed a deed restriction on the building in order to limit school choice. Not only was this an obstacle for Detroit Prep, but it also blocked further development of a crumbling property. Even when the school offered 20% more than the asking price, the district refused to remove the deed restriction and allow the property to be refurbished.
The charter schools’ founder, Kyle Smitley, turned to the Mackinac Center for help. After an informational and media campaign, legislators soon began working hard to make sure school districts could no longer prevent the sale of unused buildings. This law has directly helped public school students across Michigan.
Today, Detroit Prep is open and thriving in its beautiful new school building. Credit is due to Smitley’s determination, the volunteer legal help she marshaled, friendly lawmakers, and you — our supporters — who made it possible for the Mackinac Center to help this school when it needed it most.
Here’s a note from Smitley herself:
Hi Mackinac Center team!
Today was our first day in our new building and I basically just cried all day because WE DID IT.
We (mostly) finished the building on time, passed all inspections with flying colors, and our kids and families were so in awe and grateful as they walked into school today.
It was incredible.
We would not have gotten to this day or even be open anymore as a school (seriously) without you.
I am forever grateful and FOREVER indebted to you and your team. No words can really express my gratitude, personally and on behalf of our kids and teachers and families.
— Kyle Smitley