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DPS to overhaul eight schools

May 8, 2015

Credit Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Principals and teachers at Detroit Public Schools' eight lowest-performing schools will be required to reapply for their jobs, under a new restructuring plan designed to boost academics, public image, and student enrichment.

Principals will reapply and be chosen first, and then will have an opportunity to evaluate their staffs and select a team, according to school spokesman Steve Wasko. 

"That is in no way an indictment of the current principal or current teachers at the schools who are working very hard and committed to the students of Detroit," said Wasko.

The evaluations will include an assessment exam. Wasko says the goal is to allow the principals to choose the "best team and best fit" for their schools.

The restructuring program for the eight schools is modeled on last year's overhaul of Mark Twain Elementary School, which was reinvented as a gifted and talented program. 

There will be no overall reduction in staff, and Wasko says there is little overall change expected, based on experience at Mark Twain, which resulted in "less than a handful," of teachers turned over, and could actually result in additional hiring if goals for enrichment programs are met. "This is not a budget reduction move," Wasko says. 

The schools affected are Carstens Water Sciences Academy at Remus Robinson; Coleman A. Young Elementary School;  Gardner Elementary School;  Henderson Academy;  Marquette Elementary-Middle School;  Mason Elementary-Middle School; Sampson-Webber Leadership Academy; and  Thirkell Elementary-Middle School.

Those schools are ranked in the bottom five percent of all schools statewide and have "priority" status with the state. 

Special education teachers, early childhood education teachers, and noon-hour aides will not be required to participate in the reapplication process. 

The Detroit Federation of Teachers opposes the plan. DFT President Steve Conn says unfairly blames teachers and does not address the schools' real problems.