SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Lake Superior State University is working closely with the Michigan Department of Education after an announcement this week from the state superintendent’s office that suggests LSSU and 10 other charter school authorizers are at risk of being suspended from opening any more public school academies.
On Monday, MDE State Superintendent Mike Flanagan announced that he believes more than a quarter of Michigan’s charter school authorizers need to make changes to operations in order to continue to authorize public school academies – or charter schools – in the state. Flanagan cited low academic performance at some of the charter schools and lack of “contract transparency.”
LSSU is just one of the 11 schools cited, which include Detroit Public Schools, Eastern Michigan University, the Education Achievement Authority, Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University, Highland Park Schools, Kellogg Community College, Macomb Intermediate School District, Muskegon Heights Public Schools and Northern Michigan University.
The announcement on Monday from Flanagan came as a surprise to Michigan’s charter school authorizers, who had just met with the state superintendent a week earlier to discuss ways of maintaining quality within the state’s charter schools. It was especially surprising for LSSU and GVSU, which were noted by the MDE as two of the top authorizers in the state in 2013.
The Michigan Dept. of Education has cited LSSU for having two schools that are low performing, along with contracts that do not meet transparency requirements. It also said that one or more of its schools turned in its 2013 audits late.
“All of these issues have already been corrected or addressed,” said Nick Oshelski, executive director of the charter school office at LSSU. "We want our schools to perform highly and be successful.”
He said LSSU is working with two schools that are among the state's low performing and that the university and charter schools have recently completed three days of professional development training.
According to Jared Burkhart, executive director of the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers, nothing discussed at the meeting suggested that 11 organizations were at risk of losing their authorizing privileges. The council’s members have been working with the state on charter school procedures since 1994.
“Last year, the MDE listed Grand Valley and Lake Superior State University as the top two authorizers in the state and now the state puts them on a potential suspension list,” Burkhart said. “Our goal is to help put kids in a safe learning environment to receive high quality education. The Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers is open to working with MDE to create a public system that benefits all Michigan students.”
LSSU President Thomas Pleger said the university is working with the state to resolve any outstanding issues.
“LSSU is dedicated to offering high quality educational experiences both on and off campus,” he said. “We will be working closely with the state superintendent's office to make certain we are meeting and exceeding their expectations at our charter schools.”
For more information on LSSU public school academies, visit lssu.edu/charter. -LSSU-
CONTACT: Tom Pink, 906-635-2315, firstname.lastname@example.org; John Shibley, 635-2314, email@example.com; Nick Oshelski, 635-2121, firstname.lastname@example.org