Proposal to reorganize some of Detroit's school system draws criticisms from teacher federation

Changes proposed to some of the Detroit Public School Community District has drawn criticisms from its teacher organization.

"After hearing about the reorganization from DPS, we certainly got a number of calls," said Terrance Martin, of the Detroit Federation of Teachers. "It would have been great had those plans been rolled out to us prior to them being rolled out to the community, but did not happen."

The recommendations come from the school district's superintendent, Dr. Nikolai Vitti, who said he is attempting to increase enrollment through more competitive programming. Those changes include mandating students looking to attend high schools at Martin Luther King Jr. and Communication and Media Arts (CMA) to take an exam to be admitted, a little like Cass Tech.

Other changes include shifting the location of its headquarters and reallocating resources throughout the district.

"The latest update to that proposal would be to maintain a mile radius around King so students that live in that immediate area would not have to take an exam," said Vitti.

Martin said he has met with Vitti, but his members still have concerns about the changes. One is leaving the option open to students who live within that radius still having the opportunity to go to a competitor school. However, the threat of charter schools adding students to its enrollment at the expense of DPS worries Martin.

"So if I live off Lafayette, if I live close to Lienhart,  there's a charter high school that's within walking distance who I'm sure would love to have some of our students," Martin said. "So we're concerned and we want to make sure that does not cause those schools to decline in enrollment."

The district is also facing money shortages concerning its facilities. Vitti wants to shift around the locations where students go to school, in an effort to consolidate which buildings should be prioritized. 

"We want to put students in schools with the best facilities possible," Vitti told FOX 2 earlier this week.

However, any consolidation would threaten the employment and convenience of some of its teachers. DFT wants those teachers to be given the option of moving with the district or going to a different school.

"Folks are given options whether or not they want to follow the school in which they're moving to or want to have options or going to a different location.," said Martin.

DFT leadership intends to meet with Vitti to discuss concerns next week.

"We want the district to provide the necessary support to them so that all students have the ability to take part in the rigor," said Martin.