With a slew of charter schools closing and thousands of Detroit families expecting to be displaced, Detroit’s main district is swooping in to pick up as many new students as it can.
If that seems cut-throat for a district that narrowly averted the forced closure of 24 of its schools earlier this year and has endured scores of painful school closings, new district superintendent Nikolai Vitti is making no apologies.
“This is what competition looks like,” he said Tuesday. “We’re not going to be passive. We’re not going to be apologetic about celebrating our programs and our schools and our teachers and our principals.”
Vitti personally visited an enrollment fair Tuesday at the closing Woodward Academy in hopes of drawing parents to the district.
Lawn signs have popped up at city intersections asking parents: “Is your charter school closing?” with a phone number urging them to call the district.
Vitti said he’s sympathetic to families who are losing their schools.
“Obviously I feel for the parents of the children who placed their child in a school and now the school is closing,” he said. “I don’t think anyone would want that to happen. But the reality is that this is the landscape of choice and this is an opportunity for us to be more competitive and to tell our story.
By the time Vitti arrived at the Woodward Academy late in the afternoon, most of the parents had already collected their children from school and left. But parents met with representatives of district schools — and Vitti met with the leaders of those schools.
“If I’m here, it models for everyone what we should be doing,” he said. “Taking an active ownership role in bringing parents back to our school system.”
Vitti said the district is planning other events for families with children enrolled in closing charter schools. Among schools in and near Detroit that are closing are the Woodward Academy, the Starr Detroit Academy, the Academy of International Studies and the Taylor International Academy. The Michigan Technical Academy is also in danger of closing.