Yet, just days into our term, the State School Reform Office (SRO) has listed 16 low performing DPSCD schools and eight EAA schools on a potential closure list, regardless of whether those children and families have a quality school in their neighborhood. The SRO advised Detroit parents that if their child’s school is closed, they should consider sending their child to communities as far as Holly and East China to find a quality school.
Since 2009—when the state emergency managers took over Detroit schools—over 150 schools in Detroit have been shuttered. These closures have imposed serious hardship on Detroit school children. Study after study has indicated that when students are forced to switch schools unexpectedly, their academic performance suffers, their absenteeism rates increase, and the risk that they will drop out of high school skyrockets. Yet the SRO is considering closing still more schools—inflicting new educational injuries on a population of students that has already suffered.
That is simply not right. The DSCD school board is committed to improving our schools not shutting them down.
To that end, the board has directed DPSCD management to rapidly complete improvement plans for each of these schools.
We have spoken with Governor Snyder’s staff and he has committed that thoughtful analysis will be done before any schools are closed.
Meanwhile, we are authorizing DPSCD to take legal action when timely and appropriate to present why we believe these school closures cannot legally move forward. We are hopeful that we can work with the state to avoid any action, however, we reserve the right to do so.
We look forward to presenting a plan for improvement to the SRO and the families of Detroit.
On behalf of our families, teachers and our administrators I want to thank the Board of Education for their leadership. We stand with their decision to work to keep our schools open. We have no doubt that closing schools without providing high-quality options would be devastating to our families and our community. Closures would produce undue hardships in transportation, safety and access to critically needed wrap around services.
We also understand that it is critically important that each of the 16 schools shows dramatic improvement. Currently, our leadership teams are working around the clock to create individual performance plans for each school. These plans will be presented within the next 10 days. We are confident that each one of our neighborhood schools can be a high-quality option for our students, and are committed to this goal.
Finally, I want to thank the community — Mayor Duggan, our legislators, pastors, residents, and our DPSCD family –for the outpouring of support. We sense that you are behind us and that you are locking arms with us to help us create better outcomes for our students as we work to improve schools.