Detroit district disputes state's claim that it will voluntarily close some schools

Detroit district disputes state's claim that it will voluntarily close some schools

State has identified 38 struggling schools—16 in the Detroit district—that are candidates for closure.

Michigan State School Superintendent Brian Whiston says the Detroit Public Schools Community District plans to voluntarily shut down some of the schools that the state has identified for potential closure, but Detroit's interim school superintendent says that's not correct.

The Detroit Free Press reports that Interim Superintendent Alycia Meriweather says the the only Detroit school that is closing is one that the district has previously announced—Durfee Elementary-Middle School.

In addition, Meriweather says, the Detroit school board has voted to close a building that houses Turning Points Academy, but that special education program is not ending, just moving to another location.

Sixteen schools in the Detroit district are on the state's list of 38 schools that face potential closure because they have ranked in the bottom 5 percent academically for three straight years. An additional eight schools in Detroit are among the 38, but they are part of the Education Achievement Authority (EAA), a state-run recovery district for struggling schools. The EAA will disband June 30, and the eight schools will be returned to the control of the Detroit district.

The district sued the state earlier this year to block it from forcing any school closings.

Whiston mentioned the voluntary closures during a meeting of the State Board of Education Wednesday.

"Superintendent Whiston doesn’t know which schools, how many schools or when they may close, but said yesterday that they are among the 38 schools threatened for closure by the State Reform Office earlier this year," says Bill DiSessa, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Education.

The state's school reform office was supposed to make a final decision on school closures. However, Whiston said districts could avoid closures by agreeing to a partnership with the state for turning around the schools.

Officials from the Detroit district and the state education department have been meeting to discuss the partnership agreement.

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