Contents of this issue:
  • Mid-Michigan schools not meeting state standards for special ed
  • Four Grand Rapids Catholic schools to consolidate
  • Three men sentenced for financial aid fraud
  • Southfield scholarship program off to slow start
  • Hancock and Houghton-Portage schools look at cost sharing
  • Comment and win book money

LANSING, Mich. — Some large mid-Michigan school districts are not graduating enough special education students based on a standard set by the state under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, according to WILX, a Lansing-based television station.

In 2005-2006 the Lansing public schools graduated 44 percent of special education students who were designated as able to receive a high school diploma, WILX reported. Jackson graduated 49 percent of its special education students, while 57 percent of special education students graduate from Charlotte Public Schools. East Lansing and Holt schools are recorded as having graduated 64 and 67 percent, respectively, according to WILX.

Some districts also have managed to meet the state goal of an 80 percent graduation rate among special education students. The Mason schools graduated 83 percent of these students, while St. Johns schools graduated 90 percent. The Okemos schools are able to graduate 93 percent of its special education students, WILX reported.

"You'll see a lot of variance in data from district to district based on how many students they have, the severity of needs in the students they identify as special ed bring to the process," Cindy Anderson, assistant superintendent for instruction for the Ingham Intermediate School District, told WILX.

The report also graded how much time special education students spend with their regular-education peers. The state recommends that most special education students be kept in regular classes at least 80 percent of the time. The Lansing and Jackson schools were the only districts in the area not to meet this goal, WILX reported.

WILX, "Special Education Report Out: Some Districts Fail," July 11, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Thousands unnecessarily assigned to special-ed," Aug. 18, 2004

Michigan Education Report, "No local autonomy for special education in Michigan," May 30, 2002

Michigan Education Report," Frightened First Grader Becomes Courageous College Sophomore: Student Benefits from Special Education in Private School Setting," Aug. 15, 1999

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Four K-8 Catholic schools located in Grand Rapids are finalizing plans to merge and create All Saints Academy in the fall of 2008, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

These four schools, Blessed Sacrament, St. Alphonsus, St. Isidore and St. Jude, have a combined enrollment of 525 students and a combined 300 years of experience, The Press reported.

"We're trying to get ahead of trends in Catholic education, and the trend is rising costs and declining enrollment," Superintendent of Elementary Schools Bernard Stanko told The Press. "Parents, teachers, everybody recognizes the need to do something. We've been talking about it for 10 years."

The All Saints steering committee is working to decide which of the four buildings will be used; they want to find the best location for current students, as well as choose a building with the best ventilation system and handicap access. The committee is also working on activities to help students transition into the larger setting, according to The Press.

The Grand Rapids Press, "Catholic schools on NE side to consolidate," July 12, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Detroit-area Catholic schools look to future," Nov. 21, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Catholic schools and the common good," Aug. 16, 2005

DETROIT — Two Michigan men and a third from Ohio were sentenced for establishing a financial aid scheme that attempted to obtain federal aid for students who were ineligible. The ploy cost the U.S. Department of Education hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Emannual Njoku, 51 of Oak Park, Charles Nnaji, 44, of Detroit, and George Zimmerman, 46, of Columbus, Ohio, were sentenced for their various roles in operating the Metro Technical Institute of Oak Park, which is now closed. Njoku was sentenced to one year and a day in prison, while also paying $533,344 in restitution. Zimmerman was sentenced to three years probation while Nnaji will serve the first 90 days of a 2-year probationary sentence in jail. Zimmerman and Nnaji will also pay restitution to the court, the Free Press reported.

Detroit Free Press, "Judge sentences 3 who ran financial aid scheme," July 12, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "DPS suspends two administrators," March 13, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Montrose school payroll clerk charged with embezzlement," Jan. 23, 2007

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — A movement to create a scholarship program in Southfield that imitates the Kalamazoo Promise is off to a slow start as organizers expressed disappointment in turnout for the second "Southfield Guarantee" meeting, The Detroit News reported.

Forty-five community and business leaders were invited to the organizational meeting, with only seven making an appearance. Thom Bainbridge, a retiree of Lanthrup Village and chair of the group, remains optimistic.

"I'm not pointing any fingers," Bainbride told The News. "I don't think this shows a lack of commitment. I've talked to a lot of people and everyone says they think this is the best thing since sliced bread."

Bainbridge also points to some miscommunication between him and the Southfield administrative staff with regard to bulk mailing. The focus of the meeting was on increasing support and participation in the program. The committee is continuing to work on a draft of a pamphlet to advertise the scholarships, according to The News.

The Detroit News, "Southfield scholarship group disappointed in meeting turnout," July 12, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Southfield creates its own version of the 'Kalamazoo Promise,'" May 22, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Flint Promise?" Aug. 15, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Charters, independent schools not worried about K-Promise," Nov. 29, 2005

HANCOCK, Mich. — The Hancock and Houghton-Portage schools will come together and form a Hancock/Houghton-Portage Township Board of Education Cooperative Committee that will examine potential cost savings and program sharing, according to The Daily Mining Gazette.

The committee will consist of three members from each district's school board, their athletic directors, business managers and superintendents.

"We both recognize that the state of Michigan isn't going to find a pot of gold any time soon," Buck Foltz, treasurer of Houghton's school board, told the Mining Gazette. "We need to start looking at things we can do to mutually achieve our common goals."

Foreign language education may be an area where the two districts will work together, because there is a high demand for language opportunities in earlier grades, but neither school district can afford it.

The districts have no intention to consolidate, as a vote for it failed in the 1990s.

"In no way, shape or form is the intent to consolidate," Hancock board Vice President Susan Amato-Henderson told The Gazette. "The intent is to remain two strong districts exploring cost savings."

The Daily Mining Gazette, "Schools consider cost sharing," July 11, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School District Consolidation, Size and Spending: an Evaluation," May 22, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "What Really Determines School District Spending?" June 4, 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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