Detroit board denies contract renewal for 3 charter schools

May 22, 2018
The schools will have to find new charter authorizers if they want to remain open.

Three Detroit charter schools and hundreds of students face an uncertain future after two subcommittees of the Detroit school board rejected their requests for a three-year contract renewal.

The Detroit Free Press reports that the three charters will have to find new authorizers in order to remain open.

The schools formerly were part of the Education Achievement Authority (EAA), the state-run reform district that oversaw some of the worst-performing schools in Detroit. The Authority was dissolved last year, and the Detroit Public Schools Community District took control of the schools, but  gave them only one-year contracts.

The schools are Stewart, Trix and Murphy. Each serves students in grades K-8. Before the EAA was established, the schools were traditional public schools and part of the Detroit district.

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti recommended against authorizing the contract. He says the district should get out of the business of authorizing charter schools.

"I believe that we should solely focus on the 50,000 students that are in our school system," Vitti says. Authorizing charters, he says, "is not our priority."

The schools have been managed by Phalen Leadership Academies, an Indianapolis-based management company that operates six other schools in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and Gary, Ind.

The three schools could find another authorizer. Michigan has more than 40 school districts, community colleges and universities that authorize charter schools. 

Vitti says he believes another authorizer will pick up management of the schools.

Board member LaMar Lemmons says he wants the district to take over the buildings for 2018-19 and reopen them as district schools.

Other board members, though, were concerned about making such a quick turnaround, and Vitti himself said, "I'm not in a position to say we could open up a school in those two buildings next year."

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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