Ann Arbor Public Schools | Michigan Radio
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Ann Arbor Public Schools

ann arbor public schools district office building
Caroline Llanes / Michigan Radio

Ann Arbor Public Schools and the Michigan Department of Education are defendants in a lawsuit filed in federal court on June 30. The lawsuit, brought by parents of special education students in AAPS, alleges inadequate special education services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ann arbor public schools district office building
Caroline Llanes / Michigan Radio

After weeks of deliberation and discussion, Ann Arbor Public Schools has set dates for a return to in-person learning, the first of which is March 25. The plan is a hybrid of in-person and virtual learning, and families still have an entirely virtual option if that is what they prefer.

During the school board meeting, which took place at noon on Wednesday, the board voted 6-0 to approve the plan. Trustee Ernesto Querijero abstained, due to concerns about the time change for the meeting being in violation of the board's bylaws.

Ann Arbor's Skyline High School. Ann Arbor Public Schools has been on the state's "significant disproportionality" list for over-suspending black students for five years, but says it's taken aggressive steps to correct that disparity.
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Today on Stateside, confusion and frustration among Ann Arbor parents over the decision on whether to reopen schools. Plus, a look into the history and future of public spaces centered around Detroit's Black residents. And, if you’re starting to feel a little cooped up, may we recommend some winter bird watching?

A classroom.
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Governor Gretchen Whitmer has set a goal of March 1 for every district in the state to offer an in-person learning option. Ann Arbor Public Schools hasn't yet set a date for when it'll offer an in-person learning option.

Superintendent Jeanice Swift expressed that she and the school board were concerned about a number of factors: the new B.1.1.7 variant found in Washtenaw County and Ann Arbor, community transmission rates, and a lack of vaccines available to AAPS staff were among them.

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A recent order from Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services requires remote learning to continue for public high school and college students amid the COVID-19 pandemic. And while some districts offer face-to-face teaching for younger students, a number of larger districts—like in Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Ann Arbor—have opted for virtual school at all grade levels. But now a group of physicians is urging the Ann Arbor local school board to open up in-person instruction for elementary and special education students.

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Today on Stateside, COVID has turned life upside down for many people. For homeless LGBTQ youth, their lives were already in a state of crisis. We speak with two people at the Ruth Ellis Center about what life looks like for these youths right now. Plus, Detroit extended its water shutoff moratorium until 2023. What that will mean for residents and the city.

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For one elementary school teacher, it feels like “the wheels are coming off the bus.” 

It was around the third week of school when her coworker, a fellow teacher at Dieck Elementary in the Flint suburb of Swartz Creek, tested positive for COVID-19.

the exterior of Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor
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Today on Stateside, the summer of calls for racial justice continues into the school year. A Black student at Ann Arbor’s Pioneer High School has filed a civil rights complaint against the school, alleging racial discrimination and an overall hostile environment for Black students. Also, an interview with the editor-in-chief of Car and Driver magazine as she works to create a more inclusive car culture and dealing with a changing auto industry.

the exterior of Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor
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A Black high school student has filed a complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, alleging violations of Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act which prohibits discrimination based on "religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status" in employment, housing, education, and access to public accommodations.”

“We are alleging that she has faced — and other Black students have faced — a racially hostile environment at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor,” said Liza Davis of the Civil Rights Litigation Initiative at the University of  Michigan Law School, which assisted with the complaint.

girl at a laptop
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Officials with Ann Arbor Public Schools say it's not safe to return to in-person teaching in the fall.  

Local public health experts say the COVID-19 case rate in Washtenaw County is up markedly over the previous six weeks, and the Ann Arbor-Detroit area is considered medium to high risk for infections.

They also say the impact of University students returning to Ann Arbor in September is a big unknown.

Ann Arbor superintendent Jeanice Swift
April Van Buren / Michigan Radio

Among the school bond proposals on local ballots Tuesday, Ann Arbor’s was by the far the most ambitious – a $1-billion bond for building improvements. The measure passed with 53% of voters saying yes. Many other communities also voted on large school bonds.

Michigan Radio’s Morning Edition host Doug Tribou spoke with Gongwer News Editor Zach Gorchow about the top results and school funding across the state.

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"It seems like we're going to be able to count tonight as a win, for the district and for the district's children," campaign committee treasurer Steve Norton told a small crowd of about 20 Ann Arbor school administrators, board members, and supporters, who broke into applause at a downtown pizza place late Tuesday evening.

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Zach Gorchow knows his bonds, ok?

As editor of Gongwer News Service in Lansing, it’s his team’s job to comb through every bond on ballots across the state for analysis. If it’s more than $50 million, that’s a big deal. And if it’s more than $100 million, they’ll really sit up and take notice.

“And so then, when I saw the Ann Arbor one was at $1 billion, I mean, my eyes definitely widened, you know?” Gorchow says. “We haven’t seen anything like this, since we’ve been tracking this stuff.” 

A sign reading "Haunted: Please Come In"
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Today on Stateside, Ann Arbor Public Schools is asking taxpayers to approve a $1 billion dollar bond proposal to upgrade buildings in the district. We'll talk to the district's superintendent about why she believes the money is needed. Plus, Happy Halloween! We’ll explore Michigan's haunted places and horror films.

school photo of Shannon Blick
AAPS

A white elementary school principal is suing a Michigan school district for $5 million, alleging racial discrimination and a conspiracy to favor black administrators.

drinking fountain
jasongillman / Pixabay

Ann Arbor Public Schools has released more information about lead found in the drinking water at local public schools. The district tested 1,426 drinking water sources at 32 different schools, and found that 91.6% met or exceeded AAPS standards.

The district standard for lead in drinking water is 5 parts per billion, and the federal standard is 15 parts per billion. The district standard was raised in October 2018 after parents expressed concerns.

Marquan Kane
Gabrielle Horton / Michigan Radio

Marquan Kane knows poverty. He’s seen what gun violence and drugs have done to people he loves.

His response? To work for social reform and challenge other young people to join him in a new civil rights movement.

Kane has been named Washtenaw County’s 2018 Young Citizen of the Year to recognize his work in criminal justice reform. Governor Snyder appointed him to Michigan’s Committee on Juvenile Justice. On top of that, he also recently graduated from Ann Arbor Pioneer High School.

A concealed carry weapon
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With attention to gun control legislation at the forefront of the national conscience, the Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday over whether schools can trump state law to enact their own firearm restrictions.

Both Ann Arbor Public Schools and Clio Area School District are facing lawsuits by gun rights groups after banning weapons on school grounds in 2015 and 1996, respectively.

State law currently bans guns from weapon-free school zones; however, someone with a concealed pistol permit can enter school property with an openly holstered gun.

Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

On May 2 Ann Arbor voters approved a new millage that will be used to renovate the city's public schools. The millage will raise more than $200 million over 10 years. The majority of the money will be used to repair infrastructure on all 32 of the city's school buildings. The rest will be used for playgrounds, athletic facilities and additional classroom space.

More than 70% of voters in Ypsilanti approved the Ypsilanti Community School's operating millage proposal. It will provide about $9 million annually, which the school district can use for employee salaries and curriculum.

people in voting booths
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Last night (May 2) voters in Ann Arbor and Kent County approved funding for schools. Two proposals that would have allowed the construction of wind farms spanning several townships in Huron County were defeated.

Ann Arbor Public Schools

High school suspension rates have dropped by 43% in Ann Arbor over the last few years, but four groups of students still get suspended more often than their peers: boys, African American students, students in Special Education, and kids living in poverty.

“That’s an area we’re really focusing on,” says Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Swift. “Because we haven’t realized the dramatic reduction that we have there [with impoverished students] that we have in the other areas.”

kids going to a school bus
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The Trump Administration's move to change immigration and travel policies for seven predominantly Muslim countries prompted Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Swift to contact the parents in her district.

Hallway in Huron High School in Ann Arbor.
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A new tuition-based program would mean an increase in Chinese students at Ann Arbor's high schools, as well as more money for the district.

The school board is weighing a proposed partnership between Ann Arbor Public Schools and Troy-based BCC International Education Group, Inc. The Chinese-American company has created similar programs in Saline and Dexter.

Will Greenberg/Michigan Radio

A group of Ann Arbor teachers held a press conference before Wednesday's school board meeting to express their concern with the district's new teacher evaluations. 

Folks frustrated with the new policy also made their complaints heard during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Linda Carter, president of the Ann Arbor Education Association, said many are unhappy with the implementation of the full Danielson Framework, a research-based evaluation method that Ann Arbor schools have used, in part, for several years. 

kids going to a school bus
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A vocal group of Ann Arbor teachers and advocates is expressing serious concerns over the school district's new teacher evaluation process.

Linda Carter, the Ann Arbor teachers' union president, said the school board's rollout of the process in November was poorly handled. She said the teachers she has spoken with are confused about the new policy.

“Folks are saying, ‘You know, we really want to take the time, press the pause button, and let's start all over again,’” Carter said.

Hallway in Huron High School in Ann Arbor.
user rosefirerising / Flickr

The Ann Arbor Public Schools is trying new tactics to deal with a “chronic” lack of enough substitute teachers.

Starting this month, the district will up sub pay from $75 to $100 a day. Officials also plan to raise pay rates for classroom assistants, though those rates haven’t been set yet.

The district will also try and assemble a team of “premier” substitutes, says Ann Arbor schools’ spokesman Andrew Cluley.

Gun in holster on hip
Teknorat / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM / cropped from original

A Washtenaw County trial court judge has dismissed a lawsuit against an Ann Arbor Public Schools policy banning guns on school property.

The Ann Arbor School Board voted unanimously to ban guns on school grounds after a man openly carried a pistol to a school performance last spring.

Many Michigan students finished up their first week of school today. While younger kids might see just another year of quizzes and tests, their parents are taking note of the effects of budget cuts and other administrative changes. We visited local schools to ask parents how things have changed this year.

Ann Arbor Public Schools

The one-year contract gives all teachers a small pay bump, and the union and the district agree that teachers have now gotten most of the back pay they were promised when they took previous wage cuts. 

The school district says the new contract also officially puts the district in compliance with recent state laws, which say that the union can’t bargain over certain “prohibited” subjects, including:

test with bubble answers
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Today’s the deadline for teachers and students to tell the state how Michigan's new standardized test went.

The test is called the M-STEP, and students took it for the first time this year.

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