detroit public schools

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Doug Tribou talk about political pushback on Melissa Gilbert's request to get her name off the November ballot and whether enough justice is being done in a $2.7 million school supplies kickback scheme in Detroit.

Lessenberry and Tribou also discuss the latest news from Flint, including the lead crisis and a hometown hero who brought home her gold medal.  


stevendepolo / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The architect of a bribery-and-kickback scheme in the Detroit Public Schools deserves to spend almost six years behind bars, at the least.

Or, he’s a “compassionate” and “devoted” person who, “despite his greed-filled actions in latter years, was an honest, upright businessman for the bulk of his career,” and merits leniency.

Those are dueling descriptions of Norman Shy found in sentencing memorandums from both federal prosecutors and Shy’s lawyer.

EAA chancellor Veronica Conforme.
via Education Achievement Authority

Does the Education Achievement Authority still owe the Detroit Public Schools about $12 million?

The two districts seem to have distinctly different ideas about that, in what’s become a very odd dispute between the two state-run school districts.

And for now at least, it seems the state is unwilling to step in and help resolve the dispute.

The EAA took over fifteen former DPS schools when it launched as an attempt at a stateside turnaround school district in 2012.

Wikimedia Commons

UPDATE: The EAA has released emails that appear to show the state and DPS agreeing to revise payments from the EAA. You can read those emails here.

Yesterday, the governor's office said this debt debate is "really an issue for the EAA and MDE to be responding to," while the Michigan Department of Education declined to comment and referred questions to the Treasury Department. 

stevendepolo / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Some Detroit Public Schools debt has been downgraded again — this time, into junk territory.

The credit rating agency S&P Global lowered its rating on two sets of bonds, issued in 2011 and 2012. DPS still owes more than $200 million on them.

S&P says its concerns stems from district’s recent restructuring.

To avoid a potential bankruptcy, the state split DPS in two — with the “old co” existing only to re-pay historic debts with local tax revenues.

Michigan school boards are struggling to fill seats.
wikimedia user motown31 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A former school supplies vendor who admitted defrauding the Detroit Public Schools will see his major assets seized by the federal government.

Norman Shy pleaded guilty to running a bribery and kickback scheme that defrauded the district of nearly $2.8 million, paying off principals and a district administrator with money he received for school supplies that were never delivered.

Shy’s plea agreement spelled out assets the government could seize to repay that.

Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

A recent legislative overhaul to Detroit Public Schools is being challenged in court.

Governor Snyder signed bills that split the old school district in two last month, avoiding a potential bankruptcy.

But members of Detroit’s elected school board say there are a number of problems with those bills.

Thomas Bleakley, the board’s attorney, says one problem is the laws are written so that they only apply to Detroit — and the state constitution is clear about the process for passing “local acts.”

cash money
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The powerful credit ratings agency Standard and Poor’s has downgraded two sets of bonds issued by Detroit Public Schools.

The agency also expressed doubt about a new arrangement that splits the school district in two.

On Friday, new state laws took effect splitting the Detroit Public Schools into “old” and “new” districts.

The old one exists solely to pay off debt with tax revenues, while the new one receives state aid payments to educate students.

DPS EM Steven Rhodes, center, takes notes at a meeting with Detroit's elected school board.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools’ board of education met for the final time ever on Thursday.

The board has very little to do now as part of the "old,” debt-ridden DPS.

It will be replaced by a “new” district, run by a “transition manager”—currently the district’s last emergency manager, Judge Steven Rhodes.

Gov. Snyder just signed bills setting up this bankruptcy-style restructuring just last week.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Three Detroit charter schools are closing and two are merging this year, adding to the school turnover and churn families in that city are seeing.

One of the larger charters, Allen Academy, is being shut down because of poor academic performance.

“The test scores over the last several years, they’ve been outperformed by the resident district, Detroit Public Schools,” says Ron Rizzo, director of the Charter Schools Office at Ferris State University, which authorized Allen Academy.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Members of the Detroit Board of Education have voted to reject a set of state-proposed loans to help bail-out the struggling district.

Last week, Governor Snyder signed off on a $617 million package to create a new, debt-free Detroit school system. The two rejected loans are part of the state's bail-out plan and total $385 million.

Board president LaMar Lemmons says the interest rates on the loans are too high.

DPS emergency manager Steven Rhodes.
John Meiu / Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC

At a public meeting Thursday, Detroit Public Schools leaders tried to reassure still-nervous teachers and parents there should be a “seamless” transition to a new school district in the city.

Governor Snyder signed bills splitting the old Detroit school district in two this week.

Those bills create an “old” district, which will remain a legal entity solely to pay off existing debts; and a new, yet-to-be-named entity that will take over running schools and educating children.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Does the newly-passed state rescue plan for Detroit's public schools do enough to meet the future needs of the struggling district and its students?

A newly-released study from the non-partisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan points to growing challenges in funding the education of Detroit's kids -- factors the new state plan did not take into account.

Craig Thiel with the CRC joined us today to discuss the findings. 

University YES Academy told parents and students this week that the high school was shutting down
Brett Levin / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Most Michigan school districts operating at a deficit are making progress in balancing their budgets, according to the latest quarterly deficit report submitted to the state legislature by the Michigan Department of Education. 

Of the 40 schools that began the 2016 fiscal year with operating deficits, 18 project they'll be deficit-free by the end of June, and another 15 are planning on reducing their deficits by the end of the fiscal year.

Flickr user Michigan Municipal League (MML)/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Detroit Public Schools could soon return under the control of an elected school board and become debt-free if Gov. Snyder signs the bailout package approved by Michigan senators last week. Reaction to the legislation has been mixed, and one of the district's veteran teachers is speaking up.

Asenath Jones is a world history teacher at Cass Technical High School. She told Stateside that DPS teachers watched the district’s debt accumulate firsthand.

Flickr user phxwebguy/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Detroit Public Schools could soon be debt-free as a result of last week’s bailout package approved by Michigan senators. But how did the district get into $617 million in debt in the first place? A new study suggests that Michigan state laws are to blame for crippling districts like DPS.

When a British Prime Minister sold out Czechoslovakia to the Nazis, Winston Churchill acidly said words to the effect that he had been forced to choose between war and shame.

“He’s chosen shame now; he’ll get war later,” he said.

In Lansing this week, the Michigan Legislature had the choice between a plan that would actually give the Detroit schools a chance to revive, or selling out to the charter school lobby, which wants no restraints on terrible charter schools.

After a day of thinking about it, they unhesitatingly chose shame.

Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, speaks to reporters on the Senate floor after the Senate passed Senate Bills 710, 711, and 819 - 822, measures that would reform Detroit's public schools.
senatorgoeffhansen.com

A $617 million bailout of Detroit Public Schools was approved by Michigan late Wednesday, eliciting a range of responses from lawmakers across the state. Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, came to tears during last night’s legislative session.

“We’ve been living this for over a year,” Hansen said on Stateside. “You get to the end and it’s not exactly as you envisioned it.”

Courtesy of Michigan House Republicans

The Michigan Senate approved a $617 million bailout for Detroit Public Schools Wednesday night, and lawmakers are sharing their thoughts. State Rep. Amanda Price believes that the package’s approval will bring a “brighter future” for the kids of Detroit.

Senator David Knezek of Dearborn Heights says the legislature missed a huge opportunity to help struggling Detroit schools.
Courtesy of Sen. Knezek

State lawmakers passed a $617 million dollar package for Detroit Public Schools on Wednesday night.

Democratic Senator David Knezek of District Five, which includes part of Detroit, joined us on Stateside to discuss the package.

It’s a big step backwards for DPS, he said.

“The package that we passed last night sets up Detroit Public Schools for failure,” Knezek said. “It sets up the children for failure.”

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry discusses legislation to bail out Detroit Public Schools, a grassroots campaign to legalize marijuana, and takeaways from last week's Mackinac Policy Conference.


Detroit Public Schools students participated in a mock election on May 19 to decide on two DPS-specific ballot measures and vote in presidential primaries.
pinehurst19475 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The results are in, and Bernie Sanders is the winner -- of a mock election that 5,139 Detroit Public Schools students on 22 high-school campuses participated in on May 19. 

The Vermont senator took 58.12% of the Democratic vote and received 2,844 votes overall, according to a DPS release, beating out former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the next-highest vote-getter, by a comfortable margin. Clinton received 1,857 votes.

From left to right: Patrick Harris, Reginald Franklyn, Slytazion Sanders, and Dominick Williams.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

There’s a lot of talk these days about how to “fix” Detroit schools.

State lawmakers are trying to save the Detroit Public Schools from fast-approaching bankruptcy.

But little of that discussion has included the voices of DPS students.

Here, four students from Detroit’s Cody High School share their thoughts about just how bad things are right now.

Governor Rick Snyder is trying to make the best of it as a plan he endorsed to try and save the Detroit Public Schools is starting to look like it isn’t going to happen.

The Detroit Public Schools are in financial crisis. The district could go into default - bankruptcy is even an option - if the the state Legislature doesn’t adopt a bailout plan this month. If that happens, it’s possible tens of thousands of students in the city could be without a school to go to come fall.

University YES Academy told parents and students this week that the high school was shutting down
Brett Levin / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state Senate could vote this week on a Detroit Public Schools bailout plan, even though it’s a departure from the bipartisan compromise already adopted by the chamber.        

This new plan is a Republican-only proposal that cleared the state House last week with no support from Democrats. Their main complaint is there’s no control over the location of new charter schools in the city.

The earlier Senate version had the backing of Democrats, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, and Governor Rick Snyder.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder is optimistic that Michigan’s budget plan for next year should be wrapped up in the next week or two. 

Time is running short. The state legislature is only has a few weeks until it is scheduled to adjourn for much of the summer and there is still a lot left to do.

The state senate is expected to tackle funding for Detroit public schools this week. Last week, the state house passed a $617 million package that Democrats complain does more to protect the interests of charter school operators than students.

Forty-eight years ago today, Robert Francis Kennedy died in Los Angeles, shot by a lunatic after Kennedy claimed victory in that year’s California Democratic primary.

Kennedy, in his final campaign in that truly horrible year, often stunned reporters by his willingness to speak truth to power.

The Michigan House of Representatives.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan state House narrowly passed a bill to bail out Detroit Public Schools tonight. But critics complain the plan does more for charter schools than Detroit kids.

The main bill in the package passed by a razor-thin margin, 55 to 53 votes.    

The legislation would allocate more than $600 million for the district, including $150 million to help transition Detroit schools to a new district.  

The school system has been under state control for the past seven years. 

House Speaker Kevin Cotter says the plan will help the district succeed.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan with students at the Detroit Promise Zone scholarship announcement.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is making a final push for a larger role in the city’s education landscape.

Duggan stood alongside some charter school operators and Detroit Public Schools officials Tuesday, in support of a Detroit Education Commission.

That commission is being debated in Lansing as part of a larger, bankruptcy-style restructuring for Detroit Public Schools, which needs hundreds of millions of dollars in state aid if it’s to open doors in the fall.

The week after Memorial Day is when Michigan’s political and business leaders pack up and head north to Mackinac Island for the annual Detroit Regional Chamber Policy Conference.

Mackinac is a major political event where political fundraisers are as ubiquitous as horse-drawn carriages, bicycles, and complimentary cocktails.

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