Detroit charter school closes just two weeks before first day of class

New building, desks for Sir Asyab Girls High School

Just two weeks before the first day of class, a charter school on Detroit’s west side notified parents and students today that the high school has closed.

Officials for University YES Academy held an impromptu meeting today to tell high school students they needed to find another school to attend. Only parents and students were allowed in the meeting, and they were barred from using recording devices.

“What are our kids supposed to do?” a parent told Metro Times reporter Allie Gross. “Another black school closed down. More black kids cannot be educated.”

The school’s management company, New Paradigm, handed parents and students a list of six other schools, including one of the company’s own schools, Detroit Edison Public School Academy, Gross reported from outside the meeting. 

Students criticized New Paradigm for waiting until the last minute to announce the school’s closure.

“They call about everything else, but they don’t think to call about closing the school,” a student told Gross. 

The University YES Academy, at 14669 Curtis St., will continue to teach K-8.

Ralph Bland, head of New Paradigm, via YouTube.
Ralph Bland, head of New Paradigm, via YouTube.

After the meeting, three bodyguards tried to prevent Gross from interviewing the head of New Paradigm, Ralph Bland, who declined to comment. 

The academy came under fire in 2015 for taking extraordinary measures to prevent teachers from unionizing.

New Paradigm didn’t return our calls for comment.

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Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.