State Charter School Authorizers At Risk Of Suspension

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The state superintendent Mike Flanagan is warning 11 of the state's charter school authorizers of possible suspension. If they are suspended it means they won't be able to open any new charter schools. The current schools will still be open.

It's a list that flags over a quarter of the state's charter school authorizers, agencies that provide oversight to make sure schools they sponsor follow state rules.

"So the authorizer is generally worried about things like are the children learning in the school, is there a good faith effort to adhere to all laws and regulations, and is the money being spent properly by the school," explained Gary Naeyaert who works for Great Lakes Education Project, a bi-partisan education advocacy group.

From low academic performance to problems with contract transparency, State Superintendent Mike Flanagan lists five areas the state is focusing on. Naeyaert says it's an unprecedented move.

"He wants to hold the authorizer accountable for the day-to-day performance of the individual schools under their portfolio which is something that's never been done before," he added.

Naeyaert says the superintendent's announcement goes beyond his current authority.

"He will need additional legislation or administrative rules to implement what he's proposed," he added.

In a statement Flanagan said, "I am using the authority provided me in state law to push for greater quality transparency and accountability for those who aren't measuring up as charter authorizers."

One authorizer on the list, Grand Valley State University operates Windemere Park Charter Academy in Lansing. Assistant to their President Timothy Wood says they need clarity from the state on the basis for the latest measurement.

"We do things correctly, we're highly proficient at authorizing, and we want to do what MDE [Michigan Department of Education] would like us to do but we need to find out what those things are," Wood said.

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