UPDATE: Lansing School District wants answers amid possible school closings


LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – The Lansing School District has heard that the state is threatening to shut down some of its low-performing schools.

They just haven’t heard that from state officials.

And when they reached out to the state to talk about the situation and get more information, they say the State School Reform Office won’t respond.

So now the district is going public. At a news conference Friday, school officials say they want answers and more transparency about the state’s threat to close failing schools across Michigan.

“It really started to bother us that we’re talking about high stakes decisions and we’re not going to be brought into the loop,” said Lansing School Board of Education President, Peter Spadafore.

The Lansing School Board tells 6 News a meeting to discuss potential closings with the state was canceled earlier this month because the district brought a lawyer. The district was later told the meeting would not be rescheduled.

“Why won’t they meet with our school district? Because we want to bring in an attorney to make sure what happens is legal? What’s wrong with that?,” said State Representative Andy Schor.

State Senator Curtis Hertel Jr. says he’s not surprised with the lack of answers and says the administration has a terrible record of communicating with local leaders.

“Look what happened in Flint looked what in Detroit Public Schools look what is happening with this. What we basically have is an administration that is not interested in what local people have to say,” said Sen. Hertel Jr.

6 News reached out to the State School Reform Office for answers. In a email, the office wrote back saying , ” The next course of action will be determined soon.”

Lansing Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul says she is hopeful the state will honor Lansing’s request and meet within the next coming weeks.

Right now, at least 17 schools in Mid-Michigan are on the state’s priority list including Eastern and Everett High School in Lansing and Frost Elementary in Jackson.

The state says it is basing the potential school closings on the last three years of test scores from the MEAP and M-STEP.

But the Lansing School Board says they believe the data is corrupt and shouldn’t be used a factor in determining which schools to close.

The threat is not imminent. Any school that closes wouldn’t shut down until after the 2016-17 school year – if any schools close at all. The state will release a list of schools that could potentially close on September 1st. But state officials say just because schools are on the list, it doesn’t mean they’ll automatically close.

While the State School Reform Office has the authority to close schools, this would be the first time the office would pull the trigger.

You can see the schools currently on the list here.

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