Many charter schools in Michigan will not be able to use about $15.5 million of federal dollars earmarked to prevent teacher layoffs because they use "contracted" staff, said a spokesman for charter schools.
At issue is how teachers are hired in the state. Seventy-one percent of charter schools use employees contracted by a management organization, which allows them to avoid mandatory inclusion in MSPERS, the teacher retirement program, according to Gary Naeyaert, vice president of public relations and legislative affairs for the Michigan Association of Public School Academies.
The federal dollars were part of the Obama Administration's attempt in August to give states $10 billion in assistance, in part to prevent teacher layoffs. Michigan received $312 million.
Naeyaert said very few charter school teachers belong to a union.
"It seems the Obama Administration, while talking the talk about support for public charter schools and standing up to the defenders of the status quo, are actually allowing EduJobs funding to be a $10 billion gift to the teachers' union," Naeyaert wrote in an e-mail.
"What's the justice when they (public schools) can use it for a janitor and we (charters) can't use it for a teacher," Naeyaert added in a phone interview.
The state House of Representatives approved HB 5872 that approved the spending of the federal dollars. It is currently in the state Senate.
"It is probably more pandering to the special interests of the MEA," said State Representative Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills. "It doesn't seem right."
HB 5872 was the bill the spurred legislation by the GOP asking that all bills come with a 72-hour waiting period before being voted upon.
Many of the GOP state representatives complained the Democrats didn't give them enough time read a substitute bill introduced on the floor before a vote was called. The Democrats said they gave the GOP all the time they requested.
Abby Rubley, spokesperson for Speaker of the House Andy Dillon, didn't return a message seeking comment.