Contents of this issue:
  • Eastern Michigan University violated law in crime investigation
  • Fraser schools may contract for substitute teachers, custodians
  • Pine River support staff contributes more to health coverage
  • Health care holds up contract negotiations in Grand Blanc
  • Comment and win book money

YPSILANTI, Mich. — The U.S. Department of Education reports that Eastern Michigan University violated the law on "numerous" occasions by not reporting a dorm room homicide accurately and underreporting criminal sexual conduct for the past three years, according to The Detroit News.

Laura Dickinson, 22, was found dead in her dorm room on Dec. 15, 2006. Within three days, investigators knew she was raped and murdered, yet university President John Fallon told students that "there is no reason to suspect foul play," The News reported. The crime report was not updated until Feb. 23, when another student was charged with the crime, according to The News.

"Not only did EMU fail to disclose information that would enable the campus community to make informed decisions to protect themselves, but it issued misleading statements from the outset, providing false reassurance that foul play was not suspected, and that it had no knowledge of an ongoing criminal/homicide investigation prior to the arrest of the suspect," the Department of Education report stated according to The News.

The Department of Education has since clarified its claims, stating that Fallon didn't know about the criminal investigation until March, The News reported. Many members of the faculty are calling for Fallon's resignation. Howard Bunsis, President of EMU's professors union, thinks the Department of Education correction makes no significant difference.

"If he didn't know this was a homicide from Day One then he is incredibly incompetent," Bunsis told The News.

As previously reported in Michigan Education Digest, the EMU professors union went on strike for two weeks last fall as classes were starting due to difficult contract negotiations, finally reaching a five-year deal in April that calls for faculty to pay about $1,000 each toward the cost of their own health insurance.

The Detroit News, "Feds: EMU misled students," July 4, 2007

The Detroit News, "Feds clarify EMU crime report," July 6, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "State to grade safety of schools," Nov. 19, 2002

Michigan Education Report, "Tragedies spur action on school safety," May 12, 2000

Michigan Education Digest, "Eastern Michigan University, union settle on tentative contract," April 17, 2007

FRASER, Mich. — The Fraser schools may be able to save $718,000 through a variety of cost-saving measures, including contracting for substitute teachers, custodial services and non-faculty coaches, according to The Macomb Daily.

Contracting will allow the district to keep many of its same employees and will use the private company to administer benefits, saving the district 17 percent of the cost to hire these employees, The Macomb Daily reported.

The district will not replace two retiring teachers and two retiring custodians, while also re-using textbooks, cutting benefits for classroom aides and using copies instead of workbooks, according to The Macomb Daily.

Some employees are concerned about the cuts, but the district has not heard the community voice any opposition.

"Most of the people who came to the hearing were employees," Assistant Superintendent Joanne Johnson told The Macomb Daily. "With parents, as long as we do what we need to do for their children, they're happy."

The Macomb Daily, "Fraser schools outlines cuts to trim budget by $718,000," July 5, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "West Michigan schools contract for substitute teachers," Nov. 21, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Beyond brooms, burgers and buses," Nov. 21, 2006

LEROY, Mich. — The Pine River schools support staff voted unanimously to ratify a proposed contract that includes a pay increase, increase in certain benefits, no layoffs, and a measure that will save the district $30,000 through a new prescription drug program, according to the Cadillac News.

Support personnel will receive a 1 percent pay increase, a life insurance benefit increase from $30,000 to $45,000, and an additional paid sick day, the News reported. Members of the Pine River Education Support Personnel Association union also will now pay $10 for both brand name and generic prescriptions, according to the News.

"They are professionals in everything they do day in and day out -- even things we don't see — whether it's a bus driver or a parapro working with an at-risk-kid, they are key to keeping the district afloat," Superintendent Jim Ganger said in response to the contract negotiations.

Cadillac News, "Pine River schools support staff contract off critical list," July 6, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "MESSA reports $65 million revenue gain in one year," May 24, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Growing number of districts seek solutions to costly health insurance," Dec. 15, 2005

GRAND BLANC, Mich. — Teachers in Grand Blanc are at odds with the district over health insurance coverage and have been negotiating for over a year, according to The Flint Journal.

The district is asking teachers to help pay a share of the cost of their own health insurance, but teachers, who have never had to contribute to their own insurance, are standing firm against the idea. Dianne Bregenzer, a Michigan Education Association negotiator, said the district can afford to continue paying for teachers' health coverage, according to The Journal.

"A place as big and as rich as Grand Blanc, and all they want to do is cut, cut, cut," Bregenzer told The Journal. "They grow in students every year and that brings them additional revenue. They should spend their money."

Superintendent Michael Newton said the district is trying to look ahead and has already seen the district's fund balance drop from 23 percent to 16 percent. The rate of enrollment is also decreasing slightly, The Journal reported.

Goodrich teachers recently settled a contract that includes a 2 percent salary increase for three years, while also having teachers contribute $50 per pay check to their own health insurance, according to The Journal.

The Flint Journal, "Health-care issue holds up teacher contract" July 8, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Collective Bargaining Primer For Michigan School Board Members," Feb. 28, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Flint area schools battle over health insurance," May 22, 2007

MIDLAND, Mich. — Go to and post a comment for a chance to win a $50 book gift certificate.

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, a quarterly newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Sarah Grether at

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