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DPS will retain ‘site-based management’ schools

Staff Report

DETROIT — Detroit Public Schools Board of Education President Lamar Lemmons says the board will not attempt to rescind Emergency Manager Roy Roberts implementation of “self-governing” schools.

An Aug. 14 court ruling by Third Circuit Court Judge John A. Murphy restored the elected Board’s official oversight of academics in the city’s besieged district.

Lemmons says, after hearing a presentation from charter magnate Doug Ross, director of DPS’ newly created Office of Innovation, he does not want the site-based management system disrupted.

“I would caution against that,” Lemmons said dissolving the individual seven-member boards overseeing nine DPS high schools. “The so-called self-governing schools, they now report to us. As long as what they do complies with the greater board.”

Roberts, in April, announced that nine DPS schools will be under the new governing structure beginning this fall.

Under this new structure, self-governing schools do their own hiring, curriculum development and budget.

The self-governing schools are Detroit Institute of Technology at Cody; Medicine and Community Health Academy at Cody; Cody Academy of Public Leadership; Osborn Collegiate Academy of Mathematics, Science and Technology; Osborn College Preparatory Academy; Osborn Evergreen Academy of Design and Alternative Energy; Dr. Benjamin Carson School for Science and Medicine; and Detroit Collegiate Preparatory High School.

The schools were recently branded Detroit’s Rising College Preparatory Schools.

Lemmons says Ross will make a presentation about the new governance of those schools to the full elected DPS board at a later date.

He added that anyone who has a problem with a decision the governing councils make can appeal to the DPS Board of Education.

“If we concur with their objection, we can override the decision they make, if the complaint has merit,” he said.

At a Aug. 21, governing council meeting for Detroit School of Arts, one of the nine site-based management schools, governing council member Glenda Price, president emeritus of Marygrove College, told the Michigan Citizen the councils were instructed to continue business as usual.

“Even if Public Act 4 is repealed, it is my understanding activity is approved (as long as it’s) legal.”

She added that under the court’s ruling reinstating the elected board’s academic oversight, unless a formal action is taken to change the new structure, everything will stay in place.

Parents and teachers concerns expressed at the meeting, however, did not include the political hierarchy.

With the first day for students less than two weeks away, teachers wanted to know when their recall letters would be mailed.

“Next week we are to return to work, without knowing whether we’re going to be back or not,” a faculty member said. “If I come to work and don’t get paid, that’s going to be a problem.”

Another added that the health benefits expired that same day and was concerned about not having received his letter.

Stuart Frankel, one of the DSA governing council members and also chair of the Detroit Arts Corridor Organization, said recall letters could not go out without a balanced budget.

Frankel said, however, the letters are ready to go out since “The governing council through Vice Chair Elizabeth Moje, (acting dean, associate dean for Research at Arthur F. Thurnau Professor School of Education at University of Michigan) working in concert with Ross’ office and principal and assistant principal have worked out a balanced budget (for DSA).”

As a self-governing school DSA prepares its own budget.

He said the budget is based on 577 students. However, Interim Principal Ahna Felix-Brown said the current student enrollment for the 2012-13 years is 637, or 60 more than anticipated. Enrollment for the previous year was at 616.

The budget will be reviewed and adopted at the Sept. 17 meeting of the governing council.

Some parents are still unhappy with the way in which the self-governing schools were sectioned off from other DPS schools under EM Roberts who by himself appointed the governing councils.

The council all include one parent representative.

“(The council members) don’t represent our community,” one parent said, who asked to have her name withheld.

“I don’t mind the site-based management style; we had it before in the beginning with Dr. (Denise Davis) Cotton, the founder and first principal of DSA. I just don’t like that these people we don’t know are being forced on us and we had no input on the selection of our school’s decision-makers, unlike with our elected board.”

DSA’s other governing council members are: Ms. Katy Locker, program director, Hudson-Webber Foundation, Detroit; Dr. James Kelly, founding president and CEO of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and former co-director of Strategic Management of Human Capital; Dr. Lester Monts, senior vice provost for Academic Affairs, senior counselor to the president for the Arts, Diversity and Undergraduate Affairs, University of Michigan; and Arthur F. Thurnau professor of music, University of Michigan. Deaidre Ashford is the DSA parent representative.

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