Like when a district superintendent mishandles a simple charter school arrangement to a point of incompetency.
That turn into the big things.
What happens when a failing public school government becomes financially envious of a successful charter operation it oversees? It tries to take it over. That is the unspoken punch line in a story carried by Capital Confidential last year.
“Livonia Public Schools is the authorizer of Hinoki International School, but the school district now is moving to start its own Japanese magnet school in the same building used by Hinoki.”
In 2014, Livonia Public Schools used its power to put Hinoki charter school out of business by ending the school’s building lease one year before the charter authorization was to expire. Hinoki, a Japanese immersion ‘magnet school’ was in a growth phase, and showed financial strength that appeared attractive to the struggling LPS superintendent Randy Liepa.
Spurred on by a disgruntled Hinoki principal, Liepa and LPS cancelled the lease for the immersion program, while at the same time used the exact same location to start a district run Japanese immersion school. This of course left Hinoki, (the successful school that was growing) without a building. It also meant that the school would lose its charter authorization from the Livonia Public Schools in a 6-1 vote.
“Gosh, so sorry.. We really hate to see you leave..”
Hinoki did not operate for the 2014-2015 school year.
Many of the parents felt they had no choice but to sign up for the new program, but Hinoki was far from defeated. After getting a new three year authorization from Saginaw Valley State University, Hinoki International School is back in business.
“Hinoki had been rapidly expanding until May of last year, when its previous landlord and charter authorizer, Livonia Public Schools, terminated the school’s lease and announced it was starting a competing magnet program. Within weeks, Livonia created a carbon-copy Japanese program, hiring some of Hinoki’s teachers and soliciting its students to enroll.
Unable to find a replacement building on such short notice, Hinoki was forced to suspend operations for the 2014-2015 school year. Students seeking a similar curriculum had little choice but to enroll in Livonia’s new magnet school.
Little is known about what prompted the sudden move by the district. Livonia has been suffering from declining enrollment and the financial pressures associated with that. Since state aid follows students, an infusion of new students can help a district’s bottom line. Livonia receives a foundation allowance of $8,049 per student, according to the Michigan Department of Education.”
This of course presents a little problem for LPS and its wayward superintendent.
The competition from the originator of the program will likely draw many if not most of the enrolled students to the new school. The district has created a new problem that will be compounded by empty classes and unjustifiable expense to the taxpayer. And it appears that Liepa had been trying to escape his folly. From a press release we saw:
State Board Selects Six Semifinalists to Interview for Next State Superintendent
March 3, 2015
LANSING – The State Board of Education met today to review candidates for the position of State Superintendent. Over 50 candidates applied for the position from Michigan and around the country. After exhaustive and fulsome review and discussions of all the candidates, done largely in closed session as almost all candidates requested confidentiality, the Board identified six very strong candidates as semifinalists to invite for public interviews next week.
Current State Superintendent Mike Flanagan is retiring at the end of June.
- The semifinalists include (in alphabetical order):
- Randy Davis, Superintendent, Marshall Public Schools; Marshall, MI
- Alan Ingram, Deputy Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; Malden, MA
- Randy Liepa, Superintendent, Livonia Public Schools; Livonia, MI
- Vickie Markavitch, Superintendent, Oakland Schools; Waterford, MI
- Scott Menzel, Superintendent, Washtenaw Intermediate School District; Ann Arbor, MI
- Brian Whiston, Superintendent, Dearborn Public Schools; Dearborn, MI
These semifinalists will be interviewed publicly at State Board of Education Special Meetings on March 10 and 11, beginning at 9:30 a.m. each day.
One guy didn’t even get a second glance.
Only ONE candidate kept the board warming their palms on their asses. That candidate was Randy Liepa. Quoted to me from another conversation about this privately: “he handled, with Hinoki, a relatively small matter, very badly… So how would he do at the state level?” Good question, and one that might well have been on the minds and the hands of the interviewers.
State taxpayers should be relieved at this point, but those in the LPS district maybe not so very much. Liepa now says
“This is my home. I’m happy to work here until retirement,” he said, if the LPS board allows.
Sorry about your luck there folks.
There are at least 6 more on that board who don’t seem too bright either.