Board Of Education Calls For Transparency At Charter Schools

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First it was a list of 11 charter school authorizers at risk of suspension. Now the Michigan Board of Education is trying to toughen the state's charter school law. On Tuesday the board voted to send a proposal to the legislature, asking it to add more accountability and transparency for charters.

Charter school authorizers were caught off gaurd when the superintendent's list was released Monday.

"This is methodology that no one's seen before so that was surrising," said Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies.

But it's a move State Superintendent Mike Flanagan says is giving authorizers fair warning.

"It was my call and I decided that we would not pull the plug even with my authority at this time," Flanagan said at the board meeting.

It's a warning to agencies that oversee charters. Either meet standards outlined by the state or risk being banned from opening new schools. Flanagan is calling for more accountability and transparency in authorizer operations.

"I think you'll see a lot of these folks remediate issues that they can, we've given them the head start to say the least," Flanagan added.

Authorizers are worried they're being held to a different standard than public schools. The state only puts 5 percent of the public schools on the failing list, but with charters it's the bottom 10 percent.

"That metric issue will be important, I think deserved in this discussion to say 'yea we're in the bottom 10 percent but look at the improvement we're making' or 'we're in the bottom 10 percent and for three years we've been going this way,' " Flanagan said.

Charter school advocacy groups say they want to work with the state, but they also want to know if the superintendent is overstepping his authority.

"We're looking to hopefully still have an ongoing conversation with the state superintendent's office and we want to create a system that everyone can agree to, everyone sees that's fair," said Jared Burkhart, executive director of the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers.

A process the superintendent says will happen in time.

"If we actually suspended yesterday then maybe there would be a little more cause but take a deep breath we're going to still work with you on improvement," Flanagan added.

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