Pavlov and Kelly call on state superintendent to correct harmful changes to education manual

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Phil Pavlov and Rep. Tim Kelly sent a letter on Tuesday to the state’s interim superintendent of education voicing their opposition to recent changes to the Pupil Accounting Manual (PAM).

The PAM provides guidance on pupil membership requirements. A new section of the manual states that “a cyber school cannot enroll a pupil if, at the time of enrollment, less than 1,098 hours remain in the cyber school’s schedule.”

Pavlov and Kelly informed Interim State Superintendent Sheila Alles that this section of the manual is a flawed and harmful reinterpretation of the operational requirements for cyber schools and will impose significant educational barriers for families and students.

“The Department of Education has radically reinterpreted one of the cyber school provisions passed years ago,” said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. “Their reinterpretation is not only wrong, but it will harm families.”

The lawmakers said the provision was designed — and was, until now, properly interpreted by the department — to ensure that a cyber school of excellence met the required hours of educational programming in the design of its overall education program. They said it was never designed or intended to act as a ban on individual student enrollment after commencement of a school year.

“There are many reasons that families choose a cyber school of excellence,” the letter states. “Giving families the option of moving a child to a cyber school mid-academic year allows them to respond to that child’s needs should a crisis arise — be it bullying, a health issue, or some change in family circumstances.”

Pavlov and Kelly said it is unacceptable for the Department of Education to change the rules suddenly and block these families in need from access to a public school that could help address their situation.

They said they look forward to the department examining this situation quickly and returning to the well-settled application of these laws, which respects both legislative intent and the urgent public school needs of more than a thousand Michigan families.