Detroit's University Yes charter drops high school
Aleka Simmons, 17, was excited about her senior year at University Yes Academy until this week, when she found out that the Detroit charter school is going to close its high school.
Now, two weeks before the start of the school year, she and other students are scrambling to find new places to learn.
"I'm just mad because they really put us in a tough position," she said. "It's our senior year. We're supposed to have fun and stuff, and now we're stressing about where we're going to go. I've been with the same friends since seventh grade."
Ralph Bland, CEO of New Paradigm for Education, a charter management company that runs University Yes, told parents and senior students at a meeting Monday that efforts to find a new building had been unsuccessful, Aleka's mother, Caprice Simmons, told the Free Press. Simmons said the current building has become increasingly crowded in recent years as University Yes added grades.
"There were some space issues," Bland told the Free Press. "To properly educate students, spacing has to be right." New Paradigm has been managing the school since mid-July.
The closure will impact more than 300 students.
Bland did not directly answer questions about the timing of the announcement. He stressed that officials will help students find new schools.
University Yes opened in 2010 with only sixth grade, said Bill DiSessa, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Education. By 2015-16, it had grown to be a K-11 school with 911 students. Twelfth grade was supposed to be added this year.
Caprice Simmons said University Yes had so many students last year that some teachers were sharing rooms or holding classes in the gymnasium or auditorium.
"That building was definitely not big enough to hold K-12," she said. "But we should have known long before two weeks before school starting."
Officials at Bay Mills Community College, which authorizes University Yes, said they agreed with the decision. They did not answer specific questions about the closure.
"Our staff has discussed this matter in detail with members of the Board of UYA, as well as representatives of the school's new educational services provider, New Paradigm," Mariah Wanic, the college's special assistant to the president in charge of charter schools, said in a statement. "As a result of those discussions, in addition to its own assessment of the administration and educational programming at UYA, BMCC concurred in the decision."
Bland said school officials will not only help with new school placements but Detroit's University Yes charter drops high school: