Bay Mills Indian Community of the Sault Ste. Marie Band of Chippewa Indians, Michigan

Staff Reports
3/7/01

A tiny college run by the community may have found a loophole in the law limiting the number of charter schools. Michigan law only allows community colleges to open charter schools in their enrollment areas. That provision is an attempt to limit the number of charter schools so lawmakers could review the experimental schools' performance before expanding the number. But the tribal college serves Indians throughout the state. Consequently, it appears it can charter schools anywhere in the state. Neither of the two schools chartered in January is anywhere near Brimley, site of the community college. One is in Essexville, near Bay City, and the other is in Pontiac. They are expected to open next fall and have about 450 students each. "That's clearly a violation of the spirit, if not the letter of the law,'' State Board of Education member Sharon Gire told the Detroit Free Press for a story Feb. 7. The Legislature capped the number of schools that could be chartered by universities at 150. School districts, intermediate school districts and community colleges can have an unlimited number within their enrollment areas.

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