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11 Michigan Charter School Authorizers Face Suspension

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Michigan's superintendent of education announced on Monday that 11 of the state's nearly 40 charter school authorizers are at risk of being suspended, or having their power to open new schools revoked.

Authorizers are the entities that approve and oversee charter schools, and they've been under the microscope in Michigan since a June Detroit Free Press investigation claimed that many of the state's charter schools were not held accountable for wasteful spending, nepotism, and poor academic performance. In Michigan, only universities, colleges or local school districts can grant charters.

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said the authorizers that were put on notice lack transparency, accountability, and fiscal governance and that their schools are among the lowest performing in the state.

Flanagan will make the final suspension decisions in November. Once suspended, authorizers will not be allowed to approve any new schools, but their current schools could stay open.

"If an authorizer were to be suspended, it would not be a death sentence, and we're not closing down their existing charter schools," Flanagan said in a statement. "They wouldn't be out-of-business. They just won't be able to open any new charters until their deficiencies are fixed and the academic outcomes of their schools are improved."

Here is a list of the authorizers facing suspension:

  • Detroit Public Schools
  • Eastern Michigan University
  • Ferris State University
  • Grand Valley State University
  • Highland Park Schools
  • Kellogg Community College
  • Lake Superior State University
  • Macomb Intermediate School District
  • Muskegon Heights Public Schools
  • Northern Michigan University
  • The state-run Education Achievement Authority

It's not the first time that last item on the list, the relatively new Education Achievement Authority, has come under scrutiny. The EAA was created by the state in 2011 in an attempt to turn around some of Michigan's lowest-performing schools primarily in the Detroit area. It has since been heavily criticized for its educational programs and loss of enrollment among other things.

Earlier this year, Flanagan moved to terminate the exclusive arrangement the state department of education had with the Education Achievement Authority in order to open up other options for improving chronically failing schools. 

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