Grand Valley officials appear to have their work cut out for them, far beyond the church-state issues.
Sanders told parents at the transition meeting that the school would likely not be able to serve students with all kinds of disabilities—something private schools can do but public schools cannot.
“If we figure that we can’t meet (a student’s) needs, then we’ll have to say that, because sometimes kids come with some incredible challenges, and parents, we know that another school would be able to do that,” Sanders said, noting that the school’s principal was still doing interviews to assess potential students. “You know, like autism is an area where we would say we can’t do that, but there are schools in a public school that have to meet that need, but it’s not something we can do. So the more we know, the more we can say ‘You can come here.’”
Authorizers are responsible for ensuring that charter schools comply with federal anti-discrimination laws.
It will have to keep a close eye on the school’s academic performance, as the other charter schools in the Cornerstone network have struggled. One campus, Lincoln-King Academy, landed on the state’s priority list in 2014, and only recently came off of it. Today, it’s the highest-ranked Cornerstone charter school, falling in the 20th percentile, but only after Sanders was hired to help bring up achievement and strengthen culture.
Finally, Grand Valley State University will have to make sure that the new school remains solvent—which could be a challenge if it fails to thrive in Detroit’s crowded charter landscape or if current parents grow alienated and leave.
Nicole Perry said she isn’t thinking about pulling her 10-year-old son Ayinde out of the school that will soon be known as Jefferson-Douglass. But she said she was dismayed to learn about the conversion, even though it will eliminate her tuition bill.
Perry, who is the current PTO president for the primary school, said she chose the school in 2012 because of its rigorous academics, small classes, and “Christ-centered learning environment.”
“I feel like with us becoming a charter school it’s like, ‘Oh, they’re like the other schools. When I used to say Cornerstone, it meant something different,” said Perry, who said she cried at the first meeting when she learned Cornerstone wouldn’t be a private school anymore.
Still, she will be there next year—one of the parents Brockman spoke of who will guide and welcome newcomers.
“No one likes change if it’s not what you want, but the way I see it we either have to get on board or get off, in my mind,” she said. “My son has been here for six years, I know the lay of the land, I like the school. Let me take this new person and grab them and show them, why not help the situation rather than hurt it.”
This post appears courtesy of Chalkbeat Detroit.