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11 Michigan charter authorizers ‘at risk of suspension’

LANSING — Eleven of Michigan’s 40 charter school authorizers were listed as “at risk of suspension” by State Superintendent Mike

Mike Flanagan

Mike Flanagan

Flanagan Aug. 11, jeopardizing their ability to charter any future schools.

The authorizers named had deficiencies in key factors of oversight of their charter schools. Michigan law gives the state superintendent the responsibility to determine whether a charter school authorizer is not engaging in appropriate continuing oversight of its charter schools, and revoke future charter capability of an authorizer if the superintendent deems it is not performing in such a manner.

“We want all public schools to provide a quality education for Michigan’s kids,” 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.” 

The authorizers on the At-Risk of Suspension list are being given until October 22 to remediate those deficiencies before Flanagan makes his final determination in November to suspend the authorizer’s chartering ability.

“If an authorizer were to be suspended, it would not be a death sentence, and we’re not closing down their existing charter schools,” Flanagan said. “They wouldn’t be out-of-business. They just won’t be able to open any new charters until their deficiencies are fixed and the academic outcomes of their schools are improved.”

Flanagan announced in July he would establish rigorous principles for measuring transparency, academic and financial practices for charter authorizers — not individual charter schools, which already are under the same accountability system as traditional public schools — and to conduct a thorough review of each authorizer.

The factors Flanagan used for this At-Risk list are based on an authorizer’s “portfolio” of schools, which, with a few exceptions, includes more than one charter school. The factors include accountability, transparency and fiscal governance that currently exist in law or in the state’s academic accountability system.

“These are the initial factors we used,” Flanagan said. “I’ve also directed the department to meet with authorizers on including an additional factor to take into account the academic improvement of their portfolio, before a final decision on suspension is made.”

Flanagan met with the authorizers and education stakeholders recently to get their input on the factors that would be used. Beyond this initial announcement, which measured an authorizer’s oversight on its charter schools for the basic responsibilities in state law, Flanagan has committed 

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