WUOMFM

sro

The Washington Writer's Academy in Kalamazoo
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Lawyers say they’ve agreed to a broad framework to settle lawsuits against the state’s School Reform Office. The office caused controversy when it mailed letters to thousands of parents earlier this year, saying their child’s school was at risk of closing because of “academic failure for many years.”

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

This week, attorneys representing four Michigan school districts will argue that the state overstepped its bounds when it threatened to close three dozen low-performing schools earlier this year.

Durfee Elementary-Middle School in Northwest Detroit
Jenna Belevender

Gov. Rick Snyder has reversed course and moved Michigan's school turnaround office back to a state department over which he has no direct control.

The move Friday comes two years after Snyder transferred the School Reform Office from the Department of Education - whose leader is hired by elected members of the state Board of Education - to the Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

You cannot tell if Michigan’s School Reform Officer Natasha Baker was prepared to recommend closing any of the 38 schools on the state’s lowest performing school’s list. That information was redacted from public documents released this week by the state, following a March 3 request filed by Michigan Radio under the Freedom of Information Act.

bottom of chalkboard, with an eraser and chalk sitting on the ledge
User alkruse24 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The state is stepping in to help struggling schools instead of closing them.

 

Earlier this year 38 schools were marked for potential closure. Those were schools that consistently ranked in the bottom five percent of all public schools in the state.

 

The Washington Writer's Academy in Kalamazoo
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Detroit and at least seven other Michigan school districts have reached an agreement with Michigan’s Department of Education to allow more than 35 schools to stay open for at least the next three years.

All the schools performed in the bottom 5% on standardized tests for at least three consecutive years.

The state’s School Reform Office, or SRO, caused an uproar in January when it sent letters directly to parents announcing the potential closures without first notifying local school officials.

The state says 38 schools with persistently low test scores might not have to close by the end of the year. At least, not yet. These schools now have 60 days to come up with a turnaround plan using what the state calls a "partnership" model. We wanted to know a little bit more about what that partnership strategy might entail, so we took a trip to Dearborn to find out.