DETROIT – The Detroit fire marshal issued a violation for overcrowding in a Detroit Public Schools elementary classroom of more than 50 kindergarteners, The Detroit News reported.

In what has become an ongoing issue, the district and the Detroit Federation of Teachers give differing accounts of whether there is an overcrowding problem districtwide, according to The News.

Union officials said that a union survey showed more than 200 classrooms exceed the 35-student limit generally set by the teachers contract, while the district says that only a small number of classrooms are oversized, The News reported.

Fire Marshal Herbert White told The News that his concern is whether enrollment exceeds national fire safety standards and that he would be open to reports from the public about specific cases of overcrowding. DFT Vice President Mark O’Keefe told The News that the union is not prepared to share data with the fire marshal, but instead will work with the district on class size, The News reported.

District officials said they are reorganizing classrooms and teacher placement to address class sizes, according to an earlier Detroit News report, a process that in past years has gone into November.

Michigan Capitol Confidential reported that, based on state data, the districtwide teacher-student ratio in DPS as of 2010-2011 was about 22-to-1 and suggested the problem was one of teacher assignment, not lack of teachers. Michigan Capitol Confidential is published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which also publishes Michigan Education Digest.


The Detroit News, “Fire marshal meets with DPS in overcrowding probe,” Oct. 28, 2011

The Detroit News, “Survey: Class sizes over limit at 42 Detroit schools,” Oct. 24, 2011


Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Mythbusted: Overcrowding in Detroit classrooms,” Oct. 26, 2011