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As Conventional Public Schools Fail Transparency Law, Charters are Targeted Pontiac Public Schools posts teachers' contract that expired in 2011
CAPCON - Michigan Capitol Confidential
By: Tom Gantert
January 03, 2015

Last fall the Pontiac School District announced it had cut its deficit by $12.6 million in one year thanks in part to “substantial employee concessions," according to the Oakland Press.

But citizens had to take the district's word about any concessions because it has failed to post the two most recent teacher contracts, ones signed in July 2012 and June 2013. This despite Michigan Department of Education regulations that require school districts provide a copy of their current union contract within 30 days of any changes being made.

The school district did turn over copies of the two most recent contracts when asked by Michigan Capitol Confidential. But as of Dec. 31, 2014, the current contract was not available online. The most recent contract available on the district’s website is one that expired in 2011.

Pontiac School District isn’t alone in this transparency failure. Yet in some precincts of the state's political establishment there appears to be a double standard on such matters. Specifically, when charter schools are called out for supposed transparency shortfalls that are common with conventional public schools.

For example, State Rep. Sarah Roberts D-St. Clair Shores, alleged in a press conference that charter schools were not following the state law’s transparency requirements. Roberts didn’t respond to an email asking if she had looked into whether conventional public schools had followed transparency requirements.

“Pontiac is a perfect example of the Michigan Department of Education's double standard,” said Audrey Spalding, the education policy director for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “MDE has given Pontiac a pass for its academic and financial crisis, not to mention its failure to follow transparency laws. In comparison, the department quickly jumped to judge and potentially penalize charter schools, based on allegations made by others.”

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