EMU decides not to renew charter with Gaudior Academy

Eastern Michigan University has decided not to renew its charter with Gaudior Academy upon its expiration in June 2015, the university said in a statement Wednesday.

Gaudior Academy, a kindergarten through eighth grade school located in Inkster, Mich. was chartered in 1996 and was EMU’s first charter school.

In June 2013, Gaudior Academy was issued a two-year charter rather than the standard five-year charter. The change from the two-year to five-year charter indicated EMU’s concern for the school’s performance. If Gaudior Academy had improved during the two-charter, EMU would have renewed.

Malverne Winborne, director of the EMU Charter Schools Office, said the decision is a very difficult one, in which the Charter Schools Office weighed the potential impact the decision may have on the affected staff and families.

“Gaudior Academy reflected the promise of a new focus on innovation and excellence in public education,” Winborne said of the school’s first charter years. “Initially, Gaudior Academy performed up to those ideals. However, in the past five years Gaudior Academy has gone from being one of EMU’s top performing schools to its lowest performing school.”

The decision to not renew the charter was communicated in a letter to the Gaudior Academy Board from EMU. The letter laid out how the decision to not renew the charter was made. There were four main areas of decline Gaudior Academy experienced.

Student enrollment declined from 240 students in 2010 to the current fall enrollment of 138 students. This is a loss of 102 students over four years.

Academic performance has continued to decline, the standard academic ranking went from the fifth percentile to the zero percentile. Michigan Department of Education has ranked Gaudior Academy as a “priority school.”

The third area of distress is the school leadership. Since 2010 to the current school year Gaudior academy has gone through seven leaders. This causes instability among students and faculty.

The last area is the school governance, the board of directors has experienced significant turnover in board members, also creating an inconsistency in leadership.

“I nonetheless believe it to be in the best interest of all,” Winborne said in the statement. “The decision is being communicated well in advance in order to facilitate a positive and effective transition for your students, families and staff in fall 2015.”

Through the closing of the school year EMU will partner with Gaudior Academy’s board of directors to help find places for the students and jobs for the faculty.

The Gaudior Academy board has the option of establishing a relationship with another authorizer to oversee the school contract if it does not want to shut its doors.

“The last thing we want to do is shut down a school but what is best for the community is our priority,” Winborne said.

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