Hinoki School Shutdown Highlights LPS Dysfunction

MAPSA Calls on State Superintendent to Investigate an Authorizer, Livonia Public Schools, for ‘Unethical and Irresponsible Practices’

LANSING, Michigan (August 18, 2014) – The Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA) is calling on State Superintendent Mike Flanagan to immediately investigate the Livonia Public Schools district for unethical practices related to the Hinoki International School.

The Hinoki International School is a charter school specializing in Japanese language and culture that was authorized by the Livonia school district and opened in 2011. Hinoki had a successful and growing program, expanding to 130 students in 2013-14. Faced with its own declining enrollment, the Livonia Public Schools decided to revoke Hinoki’s charter this summer so that it could start its own Japanese immersion program – in essence, stealing away a successful charter school.

“This was unethical and irresponsible authorizing on every level, and we call on Superintendent Flanagan to immediately investigate Livonia Public Schools and hold the adults involved responsible for their actions,” said MAPSA President Dan Quisenberry. “Last week, the Superintendent last week put 11 authorizers ‘at risk of suspension’ for their supposed deficiencies. The names on that list were surprising, but what’s most surprising is that Livonia wasn’t on the list. It should have been No. 1. This is far and away the worst authorizer in the state.”

Quisenberry said that because the Livonia Public Schools district served as both authorizer and landlord for the Hinoki International School, it was easily able to close the school and steal the successful program away.

“Two of the authorizers on the Superintendent’s list of possible suspensions were Grand Valley State University and Lake Superior State University, which were ranked last year as the two best authorizers in the state by the Superintendent,” Quisenberry said. “Grand Valley and Lake State never would have engaged in the unethical practices that Livonia is guilty of.”

Quisenberry pointed out that as members of the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers (MCCSA), all of the state university authorizers in Michigan agree to follow a strict set of standards and practices that far exceed the provisions set forth in state law.

“Livonia never joined the Council, and hasn’t followed any of the ethical standards and practices that Council members follow,” Quisenberry said.

In addition to calling on the Superintendent to immediately investigate Livonia Public Schools, Quisenberry also called on every school district in the state that authorizes a charter school to agree to follow the MCCSA’s list of standards and practices.

“This should be all about what’s best for kids, and unfortunately, the adults in this situation are only looking at what’s best for the adults,” Quisenberry said. “Look at what happened to those 130 or so students at the Hinoki school. They were in a thriving, successful school, and the adults in the Livonia school district uprooted them to serve their own selfish needs.

“We support the Superintendent having a serious discussion about charter school authorizing, and his focus needs to be on what’s best for students,” Quisenberry added. “In the last week or so, a lot of people have questioned the state’s priorities and motivations. There are clear violations here that provide the Superintendent an opportunity to demonstrate his priorities are on students and what’s best for them by immediately investigating the Livonia Public Schools.”

(Note: Michigan law allows for charter schools to be authorized by state universities, community colleges, intermediate school districts and local school districts.)

The Michigan Association of Public School Academies advances quality education through choice and innovation. MAPSA has been the unified voice of the public charter school movement in Michigan since 1996. MAPSA represents more than 141,000 students, 6,000 teachers, dozens of authorizers and more than 50 education service providers working in 296 public charter schools in the state. MAPSA assists the state’s public charter schools in their mission to deliver achievement, choice and accountability through advocacy, communications, technical assistance and professional development services. For additional information, please visit www.charterschools.org.

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