State School Reform Officer Natasha Baker testified before the Michigan Senate’s Education Committee today as legislators consider a bill that would change the way low performing schools are handled.
The bill would repeal the section of the school code that prescribes the state’s intervention for schools performing in the bottom five percent. The SRO is empowered to create reform school districts and close low performing schools. It has never done either. Its attempt to place a CEO over a group of schools in East Detroit last year was stopped by litigation.
The Detroit Public Schools Community District said it is preparing to mount a legal response to the possibility that 16 of its schools and 8 schools operated by the Education Achievement Authority may be closed this year for poor performance.
DPSCD Board President Iris Taylor said the state’s move to close schools undermines the newly-formed district just as it’s getting the resources to turn the system around.
“The SRO advised Detroit parents that if their child’s school is closed they should consider sending their child to communities as far as Holly and East China (MI) to find a quality school,” Taylor read from a statement at a DPSCD special board meeting called to respond to the threat of school closings.
The board voted unanimously to direct Miller Canfield, the law firm that has represented the district as it works to interpret its rights and regulations under the law that formed it last year, to take action to challenge the SRO’s authority to close schools.