Sharon McPhail fired from Detroit charter school

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News
Sharon McPhail

Sharon McPhail was terminated from a Detroit charter school on Monday, the same day the school's authorizer appointed a conservator to bring the school into compliance with state law.

The Bay Mills Community College Charter School Office announced it appointed Nancy Berkompas as conservator for the Detroit Community Schools.

McPhail, an attorney and former general counsel for the city of Detroit, is the former superintendent of the charter school. A spokesman said McPhail was terminated Monday. McPhail was still listed as the school's chief administrative officer on its website Monday,

She was not immediately available for comment.

"Sharon McPhail's employment with DCS was terminated as of today. Her employment did not meet accreditation for superintendent. The school has not been able to secure financing. It was putting operations of the school into jeopardy," said Tom Shields, a spokesman for the Bay Mills Community College Charter School Office.

In 2016, the Michigan Department of Education ruled the charter school was employing a chief administrative officer who was not properly certified. MDE fined the school and ordered it to comply with state law, according to Shields.

The fines reached more than $200,000 as the school appealed the ruling. The school’s appeals have now been exhausted, according to Mickey Parish, president of Bay Mills Community College. 

Last month, Bay Mills suspended the school’s board. It will remain suspended until the conservator’s work has been concluded, officials said.

“As a charter school authorizer, it is our responsibility to make sure our schools are operating in accordance with state laws,” Parish said.“The school’s refusal to bring its operation in compliance has now put the school in financial jeopardy. Our action today protects the students, their families and teachers and allows the school to continue operating without disruption.”

Berkompas, a former teacher and school superintendent, is a governance specialist for the Bay Mills charter school office.

Officials said Berkompas' work will focus on bringing the school into compliance with state law by retaining a chief administrator with proper state certification, obtaining the proper financing that will allow the school to continue operations and addressing the penalties assessed by the state.

The board will be reinstated once these issues have been fully addressed, Parish said.

The charter school, founded in 1997, serves more than 650 students in grades K-12 and is in the Brightmoor neighborhood. Bay Mills Community College oversees 46 charter schools serving more than 22,000 students.