Contents of this issue:
Some convicted felons still working in schools
Thousands of parents exercise limited school choice rights
DPS to cut jobs; unions reject concessions
Fowlerville custodians agree to pay part of health insurance
Holland charter breaks ground
DPS must repay almost $1 million to feds
SOME CONVICTED FELONS STILL WORKING IN SCHOOLS
LANSING, Mich. — Drug dealing, stalking, drunk driving and armed
robbery are among the felonies some 469 public school employees
across Michigan have been convicted of, according to a list
published by The Detroit News.
Results of a Michigan State Police background check were turned
over to The News in a 43-page document that details more than 600
felonies committed by school employees, including administrators,
cooks, janitors, teachers, aides and others. State law requires
convicted felons to get written permission from the
superintendent and school board to maintain employment with their
district. Those convicted of felonies involving sex crimes are
supposed to be fired immediately.
Waterford schools employs two maintenance workers with felony
records, according to The News, one for assaulting a police
officer and the other for carrying a concealed weapon.
"The offenses happened a while ago and the board felt they would
not adversely affect their employment," Rhonda Lessel,
spokeswoman for Waterford schools, told The News. "If anything
happens in the future with them, we will look at it again at that
At least five names have been found to be on the list that should
not be, The News reported. State Police officials say school
districts were given a copy of the list for verification
purposes, but some districts did not alert the state to mistakes.
The full list, including school district, employee, title, crime
and year, is available at:
The Detroit News, "Felons keep school jobs," June 29, 2006
The Detroit News, "Mistakes hit felony list again," July 4, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "List of felons forwarded to schools,"
May 16, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Court seals data on school employees
with criminal backgrounds," Jan. 31, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "School employee background check
turns up felons," Jan. 24, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "High cost of fingerprinting school
employees," Dec. 6, 2005
THOUSANDS OF PARENTS EXERCISE LIMITED SCHOOL CHOICE RIGHTS
LANSING, Mich. — More than 63,000 Michigan students attended
public schools outside of their home district during the 2005-2006 school year, according to The Bay City Times.
Since passage of Michigan's Schools of Choice law 10 years ago,
students can attend a participating school district other than
the one to which they've been assigned either in their own
intermediate school district, or in a neighboring ISD.
"When you look at 10 years, Schools of Choice offers options for
parents, which is always a positive thing," Bay City Public
Schools Superintendent Carolyn Wierda told The Times.
Some 417 of Michigan's 552 school districts participate in the
choice program. Because the state foundation grant, currently at
$6,875 per pupil, follows the student, districts are now forced
to compete, The Times reported. In 2002, for example, the four
districts located in Bay County spent close to $100,000 on
The Bay City Times, "Schools of Choice legislation has forced
districts to compete for students," June 25, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Case for Choice in Schooling: Restoring Parental Control of Education,"
Jan. 29, 2001
Michigan Education Report
, "Public Schools of Choice gives
parents more options," Jan. 18, 1999
DPS TO CUT JOBS; UNIONS REJECT CONCESSIONS
DETROIT — Unionized workers in Detroit Public Schools balked at
district requests for concessions, even if it could mean as many
as 2,000 jobs may be cut, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Administrators said at a recent budget hearing that $105 million
in concessions is needed from the 19,000 unionized employees in
the district, the Free Press reported.
"We gave at the office," Ruby Newbold, president of a coalition
of Detroit school unions, told the Free Press.
The unions agreed to 5 percent cuts last year, while teachers
worked five days without pay, the Free Press reported.
"We in good faith just gave the district one year to get the
budget in control," Phil Schloop, business representative for the
International Union of Operating Engineers, told the Free Press.
The 2006-2007 budget is based on a potential loss of 9,400
students and the closure of three schools, according to the Free
Detroit Free Press, "District asks unions for $105 million,"
June 27, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "DPS students leave rather than
relocate," June 6, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit Public Schools enrollment
drops again," Nov. 29, 2005
FOWLERVILLE CUSTODIANS AGREE TO PAY PART OF HEALTH INSURANCE
FOWLERVILLE, Mich. — The 17 custodians in the Fowlerville
Community Schools will pay $864 a year toward the cost of their
health insurance as part of a new contract, according to the
Livingston Daily Press & Argus.
The employees previously had not been paying anything toward the
insurance, purchased through the Michigan Education Special
Services Association, the Press & Argus reported. MESSA is a
third-party administrator that is affiliated with the Michigan
Education Association union.
Superintendent Ed Alverson told the Press & Argus that because
the custodians agreed to pay a share of the cost, the district
would not contract out for janitorial services.
Livingston Daily Press & Argus, "School custodians avoid
privatization," June 23, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Montague teachers approve MESSA
changes," June 20, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Holton staffers drop MESSA,"
May 2, 2006
HOLLAND CHARTER BREAKS GROUND
HOLLAND, Mich. — Black River Public School plans to build a $3
million addition, according to The Grand Rapids Press.
Black River, a public school academy, expects full enrollment of
about 700 students in 12 grades when the new school year begins,
with another 150 on a waiting list, The Press reported. Holland
Public Schools, meanwhile, will close a school two blocks away
from Black River due to falling enrollment, according to The
Black River has raised about $1.2 million for the project, which
will house a gym, music rooms and cafeteria, according to The
Press. As a charter school, Black River receives per-pupil
funding from the state, but cannot raise additional funds by
levying local property taxes.
The Grand Rapids Press, "$3M project kicks off," June 22, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Charter Schools: 13 Years and
Still Growing," May 3, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "Holland teachers threaten illegal
strike," May 2, 2006
DPS MUST REPAY ALMOST $1 MILLION TO FEDS
DETROIT — Detroit Public Schools has to repay almost $1 million
in federal grants after a U.S. Department of Education audit
found much of the money was not spent appropriately, according to
the Detroit Free Press.
The district owes the federal government $930,448 in Title I
money that was to be used to increase parental involvement at
low-income schools, the Free Press reported. The audit, while it
does not accuse anyone of theft, acknowledges that, "There are no
assurances that these costs did not benefit an employee
personally," the Free Press reported.
Among the findings: A nearly $500,000 no-bid contract with an ex-convict to pass out flyers; $63,000 on anger-management classes
that were never held; $5,578 on five flat-screen televisions that
are unaccounted for; and $25,516 for membership fees to
professional organizations, according to the Free Press.
DPS Superintendent William F. Coleman told the Free Press that
the FBI did not tell him agents were in the district on June 27
to interview employees. Coleman also told the Free Press, "This
was not business as usual and we took swift action. I will not
Jan Ellis, a spokeswoman with the Michigan Department of
Education, told the Free Press the money probably would be
withheld from future Title I dollars the district may receive,
rather than requiring the district to pay back the money.
Detroit Free Press, "City schools owe nearly $1 million,"
June 28, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "DPS limits 'excessive' retreat
spending," May 23, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Study: Detroit graduation rate worst
in the nation," June 27, 2006
MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education
a quarterly newspaper with a circulation of nearly 150,000 published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (https://www.mackinac.org
a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.