Southfield charter school suddenly closes, pre-K locked out of graduation

SOUTHEIFLED, Mich. - UpdateWhat's next for shocked kids after metro Detroit school suddenly closes?

Parents, teachers and children were locked out of a preschool graduation this morning at Taylor International Academy in Southfield because the charter school ran out of money. 

“Kids are outside in the parking lot crying with parents. It’s crazy there,” said a teacher in an email to WXYZ Thursday.

The charter school was expected to close on June 20th, the end of the school year, because it ran out of money, but parents and teachers were told unexpectedly Wednesday that the school would close Thursday instead.

Related: Taylor International Academy on track to run out of cash before end of school year

Parents and teachers received word last week that the school was on track to run out of money as of June 2, but the bad news got worse this week with the sudden closure.

The Taylor International Academy’s school board told teachers last week they had no idea whether they will be paid for hours they already worked, because their pay for 10 months of work is distributed over the course of 12 months.

The charter school is authorized by Central Michigan University. In Michigan, universities can give charter schools the right to exist. Authorizing universities receive 3% of the school’s per-pupil funding in exchange for providing oversight.

Communications Manager for The Center for Charters at CMU, Janelle Brzezinski said last week that CMU is not responsible for ensuring teachers get paid.  However, “we are committed to assisting the school as much as we can if they do end up with a shortfall.”

Michigan has been criticized for having lax accountability laws for charter schools.  Charter schools are often run by businesses, but sometimes other schools or organizations. They are funded with tax dollars.  Advocates say they provide options in education for the public.

“This is a new world that were seeing with Betsy DeVos,” said Jacqueline Robinson, a teacher at the school.  “Businesses come in. They are businesses and they are coming into education, into our schools. They can’t make their money? Oh well. They will pull out and leave.”


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