detroit public schools

From a Detroit classroom
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Many Detroit school principals accused of taking kickbacks from a contractor have struck deals with the government and are scheduled to plead guilty.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says 11 guilty pleas so far are scheduled in April and May, including deals with nine principals. The man at the center of the probe, vendor Norman Shy, is scheduled to plead guilty on May 11.

Robert Bobb helps student with homework
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

In Detroit, 12 public school principals are accused of taking kickbacks on supplies that were never delivered.

The charges, announced late last month, pose another blow to the long-troubled Detroit Public Schools, which needs hundreds of millions of dollars in long-term state aid if it wants to see another school year.

Here's how the alleged kickback scheme worked: 12 principals, all working separately, gave contracts for school supplies to a vendor, Norman Shy, who then kicked back some profits to them.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

As part of an effort to boost enrollment and academic achievement, Detroit Public Schools plans to open a Montessori program and a dual-language Arabic technical school as part of an effort to boost enrollment and academic achievement. 

Drinking fountains continue to be tested in Detroit's public schools
Gabrielle Emanuel / Michigan Radio

Elevated levels of lead and copper have been found in the water at 17 more schools in the Detroit Public School district. Two schools of the have already announced high levels of the substances.  

Detroit Public Schools began collecting and testing water samples from over 60 schools in the district the week of March 28.

via Detroit Public Schools

Gov. Rick Snyder is a defendant in yet another lawsuit – this time, a federal lawsuit over the state of the Detroit Public Schools.

Members of Detroit’s elected school board and some parents filed the suit, which seeks class-action status on behalf of about 58,000 students who have attended DPS schools since 2011.

The lawsuit alleges that financial, academic, and other conditions in the district have declined so much they violate students’ civil rights.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

It may soon get a little easier for Detroit parents to figure out which schools are the right fit for their kids.

Navigating the maze of options – and enrollment deadlines, and application processes – from Detroit Public Schools, the Education Achievement Authority, and charter schools can feel overwhelming for some families.

Starting Friday, a new program called Enroll Detroit will offer parents a common application and enrollment system.

school hallway lockers
Brett Levin / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The principal of Ypsilanti Community High School is among those facing federal charges for corruption in Detroit Public Schools.

Tanya Bowman is one of 13 current and former DPS employees accused of defrauding the district in an alleged bribery and kickback scheme.

Jack Lessenberry.
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talks about Republican pushback on the State Board of Education's new LGBT guidelines, an alleged bribery and kickback scheme now plaguing Detroit's struggling school district, and State Sen. Virgil Smith's jail sentence.  


flickr user Motown31 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Fourteen people face federal charges for defrauding the Detroit Public Schools in an alleged bribery-and-kickback scheme.

Those charged include 12 current and former principals, one district administrator, and a school supplies vendor.

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

Detroit is joining the list of Michigan communities offering “promise zone” college scholarships.

The program, enacted by state lawmakers years ago, but never implemented in Detroit until now, guarantees any Detroit high school graduate two years' tuition at five Metro Detroit community colleges.

For interim superintendent Alycia Meriweather, allowing DPS to shut down is "unimaginable"
morgueFile user kconnors

 

   The state Senate has approved a plan for a financial bailout of the Detroit school system.

The bills not only help pay off a crushing debt burden, they also return control of the district to a locally-elected school board, and give a second, appointed board the power to close low-performing schools – including charter academies.

But the bill package didn’t go far enough to satisfy some Democrats. And the sheer size of the payout - the package is expected to cost more than $715 million - and the control over charters was too much for some Republicans.

flickr user Violet Jiang / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Late last week, the state House passed a stopgap funding bill that gives nearly $50 million to the Detroit Public Schools.

That’s just enough money to see the flailing school district through to the end of this school year.

Governor Snyder’s proposed $715 million fix is still on the table. It would divide the district into two entities: an “Old Co.” that would use millage revenue to pay off the $515 million in debt, and a “New Co.” that would exist solely to educate students.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

As the clock ticks down toward possible payless paydays in the Detroit Public Schools, the Detroit Federation of Teachers is trying turn up the pressure on state lawmakers.

DFT leaders are also trying to tamp down on a faction within the union that is pushing for more radical action to force Lansing’s hand.

The district needs state money in the short term to avoid running out of cash early next month. It also needs a longer-term rescue package to help shed crippling debt and reorganize as a new district.

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The water crisis in Flint and the financial crisis in Detroit Public Schools appear to be taking a toll on Michigan’s credit outlook.

Standard and Poor’s, one of the three major credit ratings agencies, revised Michigan’s outlook for general obligation debt down a notch, from “positive” to “stable” this week.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

A $50 million emergency spending bill to keep Detroit Public Schools open through the rest of this school year has cleared the state House.

The district’s emergency manager says without an immediate infusion of cash, DPS probably won’t be able to pay teachers and staff after April 8th.

The bill now goes to the state Senate, where Republican Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof says he intends  to hold a vote on this $50 million bill, or a larger DPS bailout, sometime next week.

State House committee approves $48.7M for Detroit schools

Mar 16, 2016
Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A Michigan House committee has approved $48.7 million in supplemental aid for the Detroit Public Schools after the district's state-appointed manager warned teachers might not be paid after April 8.

The committee approved the bill Wednesday. It now goes to the House floor.

House Appropriations Committee chairman Al Pscholka says the money will come from the state's tobacco settlement fund and not in the form of a loan.

For interim superintendent Alycia Meriweather, allowing DPS to shut down is "unimaginable"
Michigan State University

The Detroit Public Schools have a new interim superintendent appointed by state emergency manager Judge Stephen Rhodes.

Alycia Meriweather is now in charge of academics for DPS. Unlike a lot of previous top administrators, she’s actually from Detroit and a DPS graduate. She’s also a long-time Detroit teacher.

DPS has been closing  schools, ending programs, losing students and losing money, a downward trend that has continued under the string of state-appointed emergency managers.

For teachers in Detroit, Meriweather says it’s been an exercise in creativity.

Michigan State University

The person in charge of charting a new academic course for the Detroit Public Schools is a familiar face in the district.

Former federal judge Steven Rhodes, the district’s emergency manager, has named Alycia Meriweather as the new interim superintendent

Merriweather is a lifelong Detroiter and DPS graduate who “started with the Detroit Public Schools as a four-year-old with Head Start,” Meriweather said during a sometimes-emotional press conference Monday.

Recently I was led through an abandoned building in Detroit.

“The first time we came in here in 2013 it was still relatively intact. The power was off, but pretty much everything else was in decent shape. It wasn’t in great shape, but just a matter of months and this place was completely destroyed,” one of my guides told me.

So, who walked away from a perfectly good building, failed to secure it well enough to keep metal thieves out?

The Detroit Public School District.

Detroit bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes.
John Meiu / Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC

Gov. Snyder has made it official: Judge Steven Rhodes is the Detroit Public Schools’ fifth emergency manager since 2009.

Rhodes is the retired federal judge who managed Detroit’s bankruptcy case.

Skillman Foundation

The next superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools should come from the district’s current ranks, according to a non-profit leader who turned the job down.

Tonya Allen leads the Skillman Foundation, which has been deeply involved in Detroit education reform efforts for years. She had been widely considered a front-runner for a leadership post

Allen said Friday that she was offered the job of DPS interim superintendent, but declined.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

A state judge has dismissed the Detroit Federation of Teachers and its president from a lawsuit brought by the Detroit Public Schools.

The lawsuit is over the numerous “sickout” protests DPS teachers staged early this year to highlight deteriorating conditions in the schools.

The district sued, calling them illegal wildcat strikes.

But on Thursday, Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens dismissed the charges against the DFT and union president Ivy Bailey from the suit.

Detroit bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes.
John Meiu / Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC

It’s all but official: Steven Rhodes will take over as the next emergency manager of the Detroit Public Schools, the fifth in not quite seven years.

Rhodes is the former federal judge who managed the city of Detroit’s bankruptcy case.

He met with DPS teachers and other employees at Detroit’s Cass Tech high school late Wednesday.

Mercedes Mejia

Rick Joseph is the Michigan Teacher of the Year for 2016. Joseph recently wrote a piece for Bridge Magazine that asks, “Who am I to judge Detroit teacher sickouts?”

As Michigan Teacher of the Year, Joseph tells us he considers his role “to be an ambassador for teachers, to be a servant leader, to be an advocate for education throughout the state.”

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan gave his annual state of the city address Tuesday night, and it was a mixed bag.

Duggan ticked off some notable successes of his administration: more working streetlights, a much-improved bus system, and a record-setting demolition effort that took down about 5,000 blighted homes as of last year.

But there’s also an unexpected, $491 million shortfall in the city’s pension system.

Detroit Federation of Teachers

The city of Detroit and the Detroit Public Schools have signed a consent agreement.

It lays out timetables for fixing health and safety violations in some school buildings.

The agreement covers 26 schools right now. More schools could be added as city school inspections continue.

The agreement generally gives the district 30 days from the date of inspection to make repairs, sometimes less if there are health hazards.

Lauren Herrin

As controversy and uncertainty swirl around the future of the Detroit Public Schools, students say no one is asking for their input — and at least one group wants that to change.

Everyone from rural Michigan lawmakers to Detroit business leaders seems to have an opinion about the “DPS question.”

That’s because the district basically needs a state bailout and some type of “restructuring” to avoid bankruptcy.

But while officials haggle over bills in Lansing, DPS students say the conversation hasn’t included them.

user cedarbenddrive/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

State House Republicans are offering their own proposal to aid Detroit Public Schools.

Like similar legislation in the state Senate, the bills would restructure the state’s largest district and commit more than $70 million a year from the state to help pay down its debt.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit teachers and parents had a “day of action” Tuesday.

It centered around a number of “walk-in” events at neighborhood schools throughout the city.

Those brief rallies were meant to show public support for investing in schools and educators.

They’re designed to complement the recent wave of teacher sickout protests that have drawn attention to deteriorating buildings and other crisis within the Detroit Public Schools.

Diccionario / Flickr Creative Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Detroit has a new high school for bilingual students who speak Spanish and English.

Academy of the Americas has expanded from its main building in southwest Detroit.

Previously, all students attended classes in the same location. The new site will house students in grades 8-10.

The high school teaches a curriculum with a 50-50 ratio of both languages, which means students need to have a prior background in speaking Spanish.

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