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Navigating School Options in Detroit

What educational opportunities are available to students – and how are they different? Find out about navigating school options in Detroit here.

Navigating School Options in Detroit

Families living in Detroit have a lot of educational options to consider. It’s critical for you and your student to understand exactly what those options are – and the differences among them. Here’s a look at the school choices in the city.

1. Detroit Public Community School District (DPSCD)

  • Schools operated by DPSCD are free to all children who reside in Detroit.
  • Starting in kindergarten, every child who lives in the district is guaranteed a spot in a DPSCD school. DPSCD schools are generally open to any child in Detroit. Transportation and other services may be provided based on the address where the child resides, the child’s educational needs and any additional needs the child may have regarding transportation and/or student support.
  • To apply, most DPSCD schools require families to complete an enrollment form at the school of their choice. Some schools may require a specialty application or examination. Those schools are identified in this guide.
  • Schools are directly overseen by an appointed superintendent and an elected school board. Board meetings must follow the public meetings laws.

Specialized DPSCD programs

Certain schools have additional application and/or testing requirements.

  • Examination high schools: Cass Technical High School, Renaissance High School, Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School and Southeastern High School have innovative programs and exam-based entry. Call (313) 240-4377.
  • Exceptional student education campuses: While special education services are provided in all DPSCD schools, the district also offers full-service campuses at the Charles R. Drew Transition Center, Diann Banks Williamson Education Center, Jerry L. White Center, Keidan Special Education Center, Moses Field Center and Turning Point Academy.
  • Adult education: The district provides free classes for adults, including high school completion, GED programs, Adult Basic Education and Pre-GED, and English as a Second Language. Campuses include the Adult Ed Center – East, Adult Ed Center – West, Randolph Career and Technical Center and other satellite locations.

2. Charter Schools

  • These public schools are open and free to all Detroit students, regardless of their neighborhood boundaries.
  • Charters operate under “open enrollment requirements” that mandate any child who applies must be enrolled unless a seat is not available. When demand exceeds availability, a public lottery is held to assign open seats.
  • Charters open via charter contracts issued by a select group of authorizers that are responsible for oversight of charter schools in Michigan.
  • Students from anywhere in the city may apply to any Detroit charter school.
  • Charters must meet the same laws as traditional public schools for serving families experiencing homelessness/transition, special education students and youth returning from incarceration.
  • A board oversees each school and holds public meetings according to law.
  • Each school has its own application process. Enrollment requirements are typically available on its website and/or by contacting the school.

3. Private Schools

  • These are non-public schools that charge tuition for attendance. Some offer school-based financial aid and/or accept scholarships or outside forms of financial aid.
  • Some have religious affiliations.
  • Each school has its own application process.
  • They are NOT included on DetroitSchoolsGuide.com.

4. Virtual Schools

  • These web-based schools typically provide all textbooks and instructional materials, and students are assigned to certified teachers.
  • A growing number are available in Michigan. Some are classified as charters, such as Michigan Virtual Charter Academy and Highpoint Virtual Academy of Michigan, while others are operated by a local school district. Tuition-based options are available, too.
  • Each school has its own application process.
  • They are NOT included on DetroitSchoolsGuide.com.

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