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El-Shabazz Academy Set To Close, Lansing Schools Stand Ready To Accept Students

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Kevin Lavery
Central Michigan University has opted not to renew its charter contract with El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz Academy in Lansing, citing poor academic performance.

A Lansing school with a unique educational outlook is closing its doors. The El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz Academy patterned its curriculum after the teachings of civil rights leader Malcolm X, who spent much of his youth in Lansing.   Now, the agency that holds the school’s charter will not renew its contract.

El-Shabazz Academy opened in 1995 as a charter school overseen by Central Michigan University.  It began with an emphasis on teaching African-American history and culture, while still adhering to state curriculum standards.

The academy saw its peak academic performance in 2012.  But since then, El-Shabazz has been in steady decline.  According to data tracked by Central Michigan University, just 12 percent of students met reading achievement targets this past school year, and only 11 percent in math.

The school’s long-term failure to achieve its charter-mandated performance prompted the university to cut its ties.

“With the academics not being where they needed to be, we made the difficult decision to not move forward with the contract,” says spokesperson Janelle Brzezinski with the John Engler Center For Charter Schools at CMU.

Board president Cordree McConnell says her team is reaching out to the community to find new schools for the academy’s 273 students.

The Lansing school district is reaching back.

“We just extended our hand to Dr. McConnell and said, ‘whatever we can do to help, let us know,” says Lansing Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul.

Caamal Canul says the district stands ready to accept every El-Shabazz student.  Now, she wants families to know about all the educational options available to them.

“Being a total school of choice, it’s not neighborhood-dependent,” she says.  “So, we’re happy to bring them onboard and wherever they want to go to school, we’ve got room.”

Caamal Canul says information is now being mailed to potential families.  The district offers online enrollment at its website, www.lansingschools.net.



Kevin Lavery served as a general assignment reporter and occasional local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered before retiring in 2023.
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