NMU at risk of suspension of ability to authorize charter schools

NMU and Lake Superior State University are at risk of having their authority to establish new charter schools suspended for a year.

The Michigan Department of Education says it’s because of low academic performance by their charter schools and because of contracts that did not meet state requirements. NMU officials were already working on the issues before the announcement was made, but they also say it caught them off guard.

“When we compare success in our individual schools that we work with, we try to compare to schools in their own area, schools that are like them, and not lump them all together,” NMU assistant vice president of identity, brand and marketing Derek Hall said. “They’re very different places, very different circumstances.”

NMU held an application period earlier this summer for new charter schools with a fall 2015 opening date. If the suspension takes place, those schools would not be able to open on schedule.

“Of our seven schools, there was one audit that identified some spending issues, and those have been addressed and they’ve been well talked about in the media. We’re happy to work through those things with our schools,” Hall said. An ABC 10 reporter asked him, “Would that one be North Star (Academy)?” Hall answered, “Yes.”

If NMU is suspended, its existing charter schools, like North Star Academy in Marquette Township, would still remain open.

NMU and Lake State have until October 22nd to address the issues raised by the state. The Department of Education will make its suspension decisions in November.