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detroit public schools

Detroit teachers protesting downtown on May 2, 2016.
Sarah Jardine

Nearly all Detroit schools closed today due to a massive sick-out conducted by the city's teachers.

Earlier this year, there were a series of sick-outs aimed at bringing attention to both the poor physical and financial state of Detroit Public Schools.

Today's protest is different from previous events because the teacher's union, the Detroit Federation of Teachers, is encouraging teachers to take part. 

Detroit teachers protest during a January sickout.
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

For the first time in months, Detroit teachers are planning to hold a mass sickout Monday—and for the first time ever, union leaders are helping lead the call for it.

This comes after the Detroit Federation of Teachers leadership informed members that many teachers could end up shorted on their pay this year.

The situation involves Detroit Public Schools staff who elect to be paid biweekly year-round, not just during the school year.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The emergency manager for the Detroit Public Schools says the district will have no money to continue paying teachers this summer without further funding from the state.

  The Detroit Free Press reports  that former bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes said in an email Saturday that the district also will be unable to fund summer school or special education programs after June 30.

  Rhodes was appointed by the state to oversee the district's finances.

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.

The former Carstens Elementary School building, on Detroit's east side, is one of many, many schools that have been shuttered in Detroit.
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 water fountain.
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.

A new charter school in Whitmore Lake offers a "classical education" and a Hillsdale College connection
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.

There are those in Lansing who say, perhaps not so openly, that the people who run Detroit Public Schools can’t be trusted, that they are incompetents and thieves, and that to give them more money and free them from emergency management is to court disaster.

Yesterday, we learned that the federal government is accusing a dozen present and former principals of doing their part to prove that Detroit Public School administrators deserve to be held in contempt.

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.  


Gov. Rick Snyder formed a workgroup that made 69 recommendations on how the state of Michigan should manage and improve its mental health care system. The question is, how many of those recommendations will be turned into actual policies?
gophouse.com

The Detroit Public Schools now officially has enough money to stay open through the end of the current school year.

Gov. Snyder signed a $48.7 million dollar supplemental budget bill into law Tuesday.

DPS officials had said that without state aid, the district likely faced payless paydays by early April.

Out of the 38 under-performing schools that could be closed in Michigan, 25 of them are located in Metro Detroit.
Motown31 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

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.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry explains what came out of the final report by Governor Rick Snyder's Flint water task force. Lessenberry also explains bills moving through the legislature to fix Detroit Public Schools. 


Nobody, including me, has spent much time praising the legislature recently. But the Michigan Senate did something great yesterday.

They passed a comprehensive package of bills designed to save public education in Detroit – not just the students in the nearly bankrupt Detroit Public Schools.

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.

According to Bowens, the report "does not adequately reflect the realities of today."
morgueFile user kconnors / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

   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.

Michigan is one of only a couple of states that don’t already require all lawmakers to be subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
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.

The former Carstens Elementary School building, on Detroit's east side, is one of many, many schools that have been shuttered in Detroit.
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.

Out of the 38 under-performing schools that could be closed in Michigan, 25 of them are located in Metro Detroit.
Motown31 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

An emergency spending bill to keep Detroit Public Schools open through the school year is moving quickly through the state House.

 

A House panel on Wednesday approved using about $50 million in tobacco settlement money to keep the nearly bankrupt district from closing its doors on April 8th.

 

Democratic state Representative Harvey Santana is from Detroit. He says the measure gives lawmakers much-needed time to consider a permanent rescue package for the district.

 

State House committee approves $48.7M for Detroit schools

Mar 16, 2016
Michigan is one of only a couple of states that don’t already require all lawmakers to be subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
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.

Jake Neher / MPRN

The state’s largest school district will likely not be able to make payroll after April 8.

That’s what new Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Steven Rhodes told state lawmakers at a hearing on Wednesday.

Rhodes says he can’t guarantee employees will get paid after April 8 because the district will likely run out of money during that payroll period.

He’s urging lawmakers to act quickly to pass a bailout.

“I’m deeply concerned about the district running out of money on April 8th. There is no Plan B,” Rhodes told reporters after the hearing.

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.

DPS emergency manager 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.

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