TCAPS Shared Time Dispute Remains Unclear

TCAPS is in a dispute with the Michigan┬áDepartment of Education. It’s about the way that they count shared time students.

What’s a shared time student, you ask? Good question.

There are kids who only take elective classes through TCAPS. Some of these kids take classes at the old Interlochen School Building, while others take TCAPS-sponsored elective courses at their own non-public schools. TCAPS claims these kids as less than full time students, and they get state funding for them. TCAPS is supposed to base how much to claim for each student based on the ratio that they’re actually a full-time student.

So all I can tell is that the dispute has to do with how they’re counting the kids who take classes at the old Interlochen building. The kids take classes once per week. They may or may not even be there for the entire day when they’re taking classes. Based on that, TCAPS should be counting the kids no more than .2 of a full-time student. Apparently, what they’re doing is counting each child much more than that. We don’t know the exact number, but they’re counting these once per week kids as much as 75% of a full-time student.

TCAPS Superintendent Paul Soma seems to be defending his actions based on claims that quality control auditors at the state don’t have the power to change a classification if they disagree with it. What? So they can review your shared-time claims for quality control, but they can’t do anything about it if you’re cheating? Interesting logic.

According to this source, TCAPS was in the top 10 for counting shared-time students at .75 or higher. But they only claim 7 part-time students at above .75 FTE in the Fall 2016 school year. So either that number jumped in the year in dispute, or they’re claiming many more kids at less than .75 but still way higher than where they should be. In any event, making the top 10 is going to make you ripe for a quality control review, whistle blower or not.

What’s the point? It’s just more money for kids, you say. One, this money comes from somewhere. We must either raise taxes to pay for it or cut funding to another program. Two, it stinks of dishonesty. Stretching the rules believing that you wouldn’t get caught. And isn’t morality something we want to teach the kids?

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