Wittenberg Alarmed Over Felon Seeking to Open Charter in FSD

Would-be school operator pleaded guilty to fleeing police in 2007
Thursday, May 19, 2016

LANSING — State Representative Robert Wittenberg (D-Oak Park) has registered his concerns about a Saginaw Valley State University plan to grant a charter school authorization to Michael Bartley, who pleaded guilty to fleeing from police in 2007, and whose Metro Educational Concepts corporation has been given only an overall D+ rating by the Michigan Department of Education. Under the plan, SVSU would give its backing to Bartley to open The Victory Academy of Science and Technology (V.A.S.T.) in the Ferndale School District.

“I urge the SVSU president and board of control to not authorize the V.A.S.T. school in the Ferndale School District,” Wittenberg said. “With all that is happening with Detroit Public Schools, we do not need to open another school without any oversight or accountability measures.”

Wittenberg said he is particularly troubled at the partnership between Bartley and SVSU because SVSU already has a poor track record as a charter authorizer. According to a report from The Education Trust Midwest, charter schools authorized by SVSU ranked among the worst performing 10 percent of schools statewide, according to the 2013-14 accountability rankings. Sending taxpayer resources to a charter school operated by a poor role model and overseen by a university with a poor track record of charter school authorizations is a recipe for disaster and will weaken schools in the area that are performing well. Wittenberg is asking Gov. Rick Snyder to put pressure on his appointees at the SVSU board, as well as asking State Superintendent Brian Whiston to investigate the whole situation.

“Students at Oakland County school districts have access to the Oakland County Technical Center, where they can get a full career and technical education up to an associate degree through Oakland Community College or Baker College,” Wittenberg said. “There is no need to open a for-profit, non-union technical charter high school in the 27th House District.”