Kzoo Public Schools suing state over potential closures

Washington Writers’ Academy in Kalamazoo on Feb. 16, 2017.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo Public Schools announced it’s filing a lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Education’s School Reform Office.

Two Kalamazoo elementary schools — Washington Writers’ Academy and Woodward School for Technology and Research — were placed on a state failing schools list and could be ordered to close.

The suit, which has nine parents, Kalamazoo Public Schools and Saginaw Public Schools listed as plaintiffs, is alleging that the state does not have the right to close down local schools.

The School Reform Office was created in 2010 to monitor schools that performed poorly on standardized tests to determine if the schools should be shut down.

The state says that both schools are failing, however, the district and parents disagree.

“Woodward is an excellent school. My son excels, he gets As,” said Tammy Pawlawski.

A line of parents stood up and spoke at a press conference Thursday announcing the lawsuit.

“When he started at Washington Writers’ Academy he was actually a grade behind where he was supposed to be and now he is at grade level,” Aleena Evans said.

“We don’t believe the laws are on (the state’s) side. If you read the law that authorizes the SRO, I think you’ll find little support for what they’re doing,” Kalamazoo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice said.

KPS says standardized tests are not a fair assessment. The district says many of the students live below the poverty line and educational growth can’t be measured accurately with standardized testing.

The suit is expected to be filed early next week in the state Court of Claims.

On Jan. 20, SRO said that they would make a decision on whether to close the schools within 30 to 40 days. KPS says they have not heard anything back.