$1 for 3 months. Save 97%.
$1 for 3 months. Save 97%.

Officials: Detroit charter’s high school to close

The Detroit News

Just weeks before the academic year starts, a Detroit charter’s high school is closing, officials said.

The decision to end the high school at University YES Academy, which also has middle and elementary schools, was announced Monday, the Michigan Association of Public School Academies said.

“The students and families at University YES Academy deserved better,” Dan Quisenberry, president of the Lansing-based state charter school association, said in a statement Tuesday. “The timing is terribly unfortunate and should never happen like this now or ever. Informing students and parents just two weeks before the start of classes that their school is closing is something that is totally unacceptable.

“Parents and students have been left scrambling to find a new school. This is unacceptable and we’re ready to do everything we can to help them in that process.”

The closure is effective immediately and affects only the high school, said Buddy Moorehouse, vice president of communications for the association.

According to its website, the academy now is managed by New Paradigm for Education, an area nonprofit charter management group. In an online statement to parents, the group said the school would “close due to building constraints.”

“New Paradigm for Education was just brought on to manage the school,” the statement read. “We are experts at school turnarounds and we are focusing our energy on making sure University YES Academy children receive the best education possible.”

Other details about what prompted the closure were not released Tuesday. Representatives for Bay Mills Community College, which authorized the academy, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

MAPSA is urging parents to attend an enrollment fair from 5-7 p.m. Thursday at the Ford Motor Co. Conference & Event Center, 1151 Village Road, Dearborn.

“We also invite parents to call our office at (517) 374-9167, and our staff will help them navigate the process,” Quisenberry said. “What’s important now is that each and every one of them finds a spot in a quality school.”

University YES launched in 2010 at the former Winship Detroit public school, which the district sold to New Urban Learning, a nonprofit charter management group, for $440,000. Wayne and Joan Webber Foundation contributed to the $5.5 million renovation.

According to the MAPSA website, the academy recently enrolled 668 students and served grades 5-9, K-12, K-2. It was “modeled after some of the high-performing charter schools in the nation” and aims to have at least 90 percent of its pupils enroll in a four-year college or university, the website read.

The academy high school opened in fall 2013.

In a message from the principal on its website, the University YES Academy High School was “home to 261 scholars in grades nine through eleven.”

University YES was not listed among the Michigan charter schools MAPSA in June said were slated to close.

The closure plans follow state lawmakers passing a $617 million rescue package for Detroit Public Schools that omitted a citywide education commission empowered to close poorly performing city schools, including charters. MAPSA and other charter advocates opposed the commission.

Meanwhile, seven charter schools in Michigan are slated to open this fall — the fewest in the state’s history, MAPSA said.

Michigan is expected to have 300 charter schools, the same number as 2015-16.