Detroit Public Schools

school lockers
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Poorly-performing Detroit schools could be closing soon. 

Attorney General Bill Schuette issued an opinion clarifying a section of the school code on Wednesday.

The opinion says that schools in the Detroit Public School Community District that have been in the bottom five percent for the last three school years can be closed.

That means if a school hasn’t performed sufficiently during the 2015-2016, 2014-2015 and 2013-2014 school years, it is subject to the rules. 

school desks
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Michigan's attorney general says the state may close persistently low-performing public schools in Detroit before the end of this academic year if they were among the lowest-achieving for the preceding three years.

Republican legislative leaders earlier this month asked Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette to weigh in because Republican Gov. Rick Snyder interpreted a law rescuing the Detroit district from debt to mean the State School Reform/Redesign Officer cannot close any district school until 2019.

January 2016 photo of Sen. Arlan Meekhof and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley
Courtesy photo / senatorarlanmeekhof.com

A Republican legislative leader is lashing out at the Detroit school district's emergency manager after the approval of teacher pay increases.

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said Wednesday he's lost "all my confidence" in Steven Rhodes as the state-managed district is gradually returned to local control under a $617 million state bailout.

Meekhof says Rhodes found a "loophole" in the legislation and isn't "doing a good job for the taxpayers."

The Detroit Federation of Teachers last week ratified a contract with pay hikes, mostly one-time bonuses.

A judge has sentenced three more Detroit principals to prison for taking bribes from a school contractor.

Clara Smith, who accepted $194,000, was given the longest punishment Wednesday - two years - while James Hearn got 10 months and Willye Pearsall was sentenced to 15 months behind bars.

Pearsall says, "It's not anybody's fault but mine."

The government says bogus invoices were submitted for paper and other supplies. In exchange, principals received gift cards, cash and checks from contractor Norman Shy.

The union representing Detroit teachers says its members have ratified a new deal with the city's new school district. The Detroit Federation of Teachers announced vote results late Wednesday.

The union says the contract isn't perfect, but includes pay increases - mostly in the form of bonuses, including a 3 percent bonus for instructors at the top of the salary scale.

Elementary school teachers also get an added period for preparation. The contract includes creating a committee to address teachers' health and safety concerns.

school desks
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Republican legislative leaders are asking Michigan's attorney general to issue an opinion on the state's authority to close persistently low-performing public schools in Detroit as soon as the end of this academic year.

The letter released Friday was written by Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and House Speaker Kevin Cotter.

Sen. Arlan Meekhof
Michigan.gov / MISenateGOP.com

A top Republican lawmaker says he's considering "all options" to challenge Gov. Rick Snyder's determination that no low-performing Detroit public schools can be closed by the state for three years.

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said Tuesday one option is asking Attorney General Bill Schuette for a legal opinion.

Snyder's office said last week he interprets the law creating a new, debt-free Detroit school district this summer to mean the State School Reform Office can't close any district school until 2019.

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Many of the schools on Michigan's newest bottom 5 percent list are in Detroit and will not be closed by the state until 2019 at the earliest because of how the laws enacting a financial bailout of the district were written.

Gov. Rick Snyder's administration on Thursday made public the lowest-performing schools across the state.

Fifty-eight of the 116 open schools are in Detroit's district or will be folded back into the district when a state-created turnaround entity dissolves next year.

A judge has ruled against Detroit's school district in a lawsuit targeting teachers accused of encouraging sick-outs that closed dozens of schools earlier this year.

Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens wrote in this week's ruling that the district interpreted state law in a way that's "offensive to fundamental rights of free speech."

Nicole Conaway and Steve Conn said they were protected by the First Amendment.

The sick-outs sought to call attention to poor building conditions, finances and other issues in the state-run district.

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Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 3.0 / Wikimedia.org

A retired judge who handled Detroit's bankruptcy plans to stay at his post running the city's deeply troubled school system until January.

State-appointed emergency manager Steven Rhodes tells the Detroit Free Press he met this week with Gov. Rick Snyder and agreed to extend his contract, which was to expire Sept. 30.

Detroit is to swear in a new school board in January.

Snyder spokeswoman Anna Heaton confirmed the meeting to The Associated Press, but says in an email a contract hasn't been signed.

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