Education
4:55 pm
Fri July 27, 2012

Highland Park Public Schools selects Leona Group to manage charter system

Highland Park Public Schools contracted the Leona Group to run its charter system next year.

A press release issued by the school system's Emergency Manager, Joyce Parker, said that she met with the newly appointed board of education today who approved the Leona Group, LLC contract as charter operator unanimously.

From the release:

“The Leona Group offered the best fit for Highland Park students and
families,” said Joyce Parker. “In addition to their strong academic
performance standards, Leona is committed to working in partnership with
parents, the community, my office and the new board to ensure students in
Highland Park receive the very best education possible.”

Parker made the decision to charter the school district last month, facing a roughly $15 million deficit, and a student population that dropped to about 800 students, reported Michigan Radio's . The district almost ran out of money last school year, surviving with a $4 million lifeline from the state.

Leona Group currently operates 21 schools across the state.  In the press release, Bill Coats, founder and
CEO of the Leona Group said,

“We are excited about this opportunity to work with the Highland Park
community to rebuild the education system. Students deserve a world-class education,
something that is critical to Highland Park’s revitalization.”

Coats previously served as Grosse Pointe Public Schools and Kalamazoo Public Schools superintendent.

Pamela Williams from Highland Park will serve as the HPPS superintendent.  Prior to this appointment, she headed up Leona’s Saginaw Preparatory Academy.

HPPS follows Muskegon Heights School District to become the second privatized school system in the state. Earlier this month, that district's emergency manager hired Mosaica Education Inc. to run the schools next year, for which the company will make a minimum $8.75 million in annual fees.

The Highland Park school district is also facing an ACLU lawsuit over its students' quality of literacy education.

Emergency Manager Parker, HPPS board members, and representatives of the Leona Group will host
an informational meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012, at 5:30 p.m., at Highland Park
Community High School, located at 15900 Woodward Avenue.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom