Appeals Court Hears MEA Union Suit Involving Bay Mills Public Charter Schools

Union Seeks to Deprive Choice to the Parents of 10,000 Schoolchildren, says Center Analyst

For Immediate Release

Patrick J. Wright, Senior Legal Analyst
Phone: 989-430-3912

Ryan S. Olson, Director of Education Policy
Phone: 989-631-0900

MIDLAND — The Michigan Education Association’s effort to shutter 32 public charter schools throughout Michigan met with skeptical questioning from a panel of three judges in the Michigan Court of Appeals today, according to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy senior legal analyst who attended the hearing.

The court heard oral arguments concerning a lawsuit brought by the union against the state of Michigan for financing public charter schools authorized by Bay Mills Community College of Brimley, Mich. Center Senior Legal Analyst Patrick J. Wright filed a friend of the court brief opposing the MEA’s lawsuit in April 2006.

Following the hearing, Wright commented: "The court was skeptical of the MEA’s claim that the community college board was not a public entity, particularly in light of the fact that the union obtained numerous documents from the college through the Freedom of Information Act, which only applies to public bodies. The judges also questioned whether the MEA had demonstrated the unique harm to their members that is required for the union to bring this suit."

Ryan S. Olson, director of education policy for the Mackinac Center, expressed concern that the lawsuit would further limit educational choices available to parents under Michigan law. "As part of the MEA’s stand against educational reform in Michigan, the union is willing to seek the extraordinary relief of denying choice to the parents of more than 10,000 children who attend the 32 Bay Mills schools," said Olson. "Research has shown that, where parents have the freedom to choose the best and safest schools for their kids, both the schools and students benefit."

Mackinac Center coverage of the union’s attempts to shut down Bay Mills public charter schools can be found at The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich.