Law & Courts

To Keep Struggling Schools Open, Detroit Will Sue the State of Michigan

By Corey Mitchell — March 15, 2017 1 min read
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Detroit’s K-12 leaders are planning to file a lawsuit to prevent the state of Michigan from closing any of its struggling schools.

The city’s board of education voted Tuesday to sue the state School Reform Office, the state of Michigan, and the state’s school reform officer. The suit could be filed as soon as this week, the Detroit Free press reports.

At least two other Michigan school systems—the Kalamazoo and Saginaw districts—have already filed suit against the state to stop schools from being shut down and others are considering legal action.

In January, the state’s school reform office identified 38 schools statewide for potential closure because they have ranked in the bottom 5 percent academically for three straight years.

Of the 38 schools, 25 are located in Detroit, including eight in Michigan’s Education Achievement Authority, a state-run district that operates the worst of Michigan’s lowest-performing schools.

The state education department has offered a deal to districts that have schools on that closure list: team up with the state to turn the schools around. In return, the school reform office would delay any closure decisions.

Districts that refuse to accept the deal could see the targeted schools close as soon as June.

In February, Members of Michigan’s congressional delegation sent a letter to Gov. Rick Snyder, asking him to abandon plans to shut down the schools. The letter cited the negative impact the school closings could have on surrounding neighborhoods and families who would face much longer commutes to school. Under the state’s plan, another 35 schools could face closure at the end of the 2017-18 school year, the Free Press reports.

A review of state data by found that, if the schools shut down, parents in Detroit looking to send their children to better-performing schools would have few options.

Here’s a look at the letter from the Michigan delegation.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.