Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

December 11, 2013

More bad schools to end up in state district

LANSING (AP) — The state school superintendent said Tuesday he will direct more of Michigan’s worst public schools into a state improvement district as early as January, while critics questioned whether the move is legal without the Legislature’s blessing.

Mike Flanagan said “many more” than 10 schools should join 15 Detroit schools in the Education Achievement Authority. Though he previously said fewer than 10 would be added to the reform district, he said state officials through a vetting process discovered more need to be placed there.

Flanagan did not indicate how many more and which schools among Michigan’s lowest-performing 5 percent for three straight years could be taken over by the state.

“We want to be certain which schools those should be and whether they are making the satisfactory progress that the law requires of them,” he said in a written statement.

The announcement came as senators consider contentious legislation to codify the EAA in law and expand it beyond Detroit. The bill passed the Republican-led House in March but has stalled in the GOP-controlled Senate despite backing from Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who wants it approved before legislators adjourn for the year Thursday.

The state in 2011 signed a deal transferring its school reform/redesign district — created under a law signed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm to win federal Race to the Top grants — to the Snyder-backed EAA, which had been formed two months earlier through an agreement between Detroit schools’ emergency manager and Eastern Michigan University.

While Flanagan says the transfer contract allows all schools in the new district to be run by the EAA, Democratic Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton of Huntington Woods said state law says nothing about the EAA, which did not exist when Granholm and legislators created the reform office.

“I guarantee that the first school district that gets put in, there’s a lawsuit,” she said.

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