Detroit charter school says teachers won't be paid money they're owed

Posted at 4:52 PM, Jul 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-27 16:53:02-04

Teachers at yet another charter school are getting disturbing news. Teachers at Michigan Technical Academy in Detroit got an e-mail telling them the school is out of money- and will not be paying them over the summer for hours they already worked during the school year.

“That is crazy, because these teachers care about their students,” said Krystle Howell, a mom to 3 students at the school.

A letter was posted on the school’s doors last month notifying all the school will not reopen come fall.  Since, parents have been scrambling to find new schools for their children and teachers have been trying to find new jobs.

“For teachers to not only have to look for new jobs, but learn they aren’t going to be paid what they are owed, it is unfair,” said Howell.

Teachers are losing 6 weeks pay.  They tell Seven Action News it is between approximately $4,000 and $8,000 lost for employees impacted, depending on their wage.

So why did this happen? Turns out this charter school was failing academically overall and broke according to the university authorizing it, Central Michigan University.

In 2006 the school borrowed $16 million and apparently couldn’t pay the money back.  In Michigan Universities are often given the job of authorizing a school.  They are paid 3% of the schools state funding to make sure it is following state law and financially solvent.   Central Michigan University however says it isn’t responsible for the debt. That is on the schools board of directors.

The school doesn’t have money for payroll because the creditors that lent that money demanded payment.

“We certainly feel strongly staff members deserve to be paid for the work performed, but unfortunately the decision by the creditors we don’t have enough sufficient funds for the July 31st payroll and the August payroll,” said Janelle Brzezinski, Communications Manager at The Governor John Engler Center for Charter Schools at Central Michigan University.

CMU also told teachers to contact the contractor that hired them- Matchbook Learning Solutions. When teachers did that - Matchbook told them in an e-mail its contract with the school expired last month. Basically - no one wants to take responsibility.

Teachers and families are left scrambling.  CMU says it is spending the money it made as authorizer on helping students transfer.  There is simply no money available for the teachers.