The Michigan Board of Education wants Governor Snyder's School Reform Office to call off closing any schools this fall. It joins a growing chorus of protest by parents and school administrators against possible school closures.
Last month the School Reform Office announced that 38 schools are at risk of closure because of persistently low standardized test scores. The office said it was reviewing whether a closing would create "unreasonable hardship" before it reaches a final decision on closing a school.
In a 6-1 bipartisan vote on Tuesday, the state board said no school should be closed because there was no clear definition of "unreasonable hardship."
The board said research shows that school closings can harm students and damage communities.
It's asking for more time for further research to assess the impact of school closures on students and on particular subgroups of students, including those with special education and transportation needs.
"These schools are anchors within neighborhoods," said Pamela Pugh, a member of the State Board. Pugh said closing schools can be the death knell of a community.
"There's a lot we need to be doing, and it's not labeling kids as failures," said Pugh. "It's not labeling educators as failures."
The state board also wants Governor Snyder to reverse his executive order that took authority over the School Reform Office away from the State Superintendent of Education. The board wants the state superintendent to use a partnership model to assist local schools.
The Board noted that the 38 schools are all majority African-American, with 25 in Detroit.