AG: More charters legal in Detroit

LANSING, Mich. – State Attorney General Mike Cox said in a legal opinion Monday that declining enrollment has triggered the mechanism allowing more charter public schools to open in Detroit, according to The Associated Press.

Detroit Public Schools had been designated as a first-class district under state law, preventing certain community colleges from opening charter schools there as long as district enrollment remained above 100,000, the report said.

Enrollment dropped to about 93,000 in the last school year, AP reported, and Cox’s opinion confirmed that Bay Mills Community College or a Detroit community college may authorize charters within DPS boundaries. No community college has contacted the state about expanding into Detroit, according to Martin Ackley, a Michigan Department of Education spokesman, AP reported.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael Flanagan requested the opinion, which is binding unless a court reverses it, according to AP.

Bay Mills Charter School Office Director Patrick Shannon told AP it currently has no plans to move into Detroit, though it already has 41 schools around the state, including nearby Warren, Inkster and Highland Park.

“We feel we’re already servicing that population,” Shannon told AP. “We recognize communities need their traditional public schools.”

DPS emergency financial manager Robert Bobb issued a statement welcoming competition from charters but also saying that, “Charter schools must not continue to be allowed the luxury of picking and choosing their students,” AP reported.

The Associated Press, “Mich. AG: Detroit can have more charter schools,” July 20, 2009

Michigan Education Report, “Colleges: ‘Wait and see’ on Detroit charter schools,” April 7, 2008