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New student count rules rile cyber school supporters

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Charter school groups and state lawmakers are complaining about how the Michigan Department of Education plans to count students enrolling in cyber schools.

All Michigan schools must provide a minimum of 1,098 hours of instruction throughout the school year, under Section 101 of the State School Aid Act.

A Department spokesman says cyber schools have two additional requirements regarding the amount of instructional time and type of enrollments that they may accept.  The spokesman says, according to the law, an online school can’t enroll a student if there are less than eleven hundred hours left in the school year.   If it does, the online school won’t receive state funding.

Dan Quisenberry is the president of the Michigan Charter School Association.   He says the new rule would discourage online schools from accepting new students once the school year begins.

“The impact is about kids.  It will discourage schools from accepting students” says Quisenberry.

Lawmakers who head the House and Senate education committees are calling on the department to change the rule.     

Senate Education Committee Chairman Phil Pavlov believes the Education department is going against the intent of the law.

“I’m concerned the department is taking a unilateral, harmful approach to how we count student population,” says Pavlov, “And the end result is keeping kids out of choice when it comes to enrolling in cyber schools.”

Pavlov and House Education Reform Committee Chairman Tim Kelly sent a letter to the interim state superintendent asking her to change the rule.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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