LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Michigan’s attorney general says the state may close persistently low-performing public schools in Detroit before the end of this academic year if they were among the lowest-achieving for the preceding three years.

Republican legislative leaders earlier this month asked Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette to weigh in because Republican Gov. Rick Snyder interpreted a law rescuing the Detroit district from debt to mean the State School Reform/Redesign Officer cannot close any district school until 2019.

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Schuette’s office Wednesday released an official opinion, which is legally binding on state agencies and officers unless reversed by a court.

“The law is clear: Michigan parents and their children do not have to be stuck indefinitely in a failing school,” said Schuette. “Detroit students and parents deserve accountability and high performing schools. If a child can’t spell opportunity, they won’t have opportunity.”

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and House Speaker Kevin Cotter had said the law’s “plain language” authorized Detroit school closures by the end of this school year and to say otherwise ignored legislative intent.

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“Children are falling behind every day in failing Detroit schools, and we cannot afford to lose another day to uncertainty. Detroit students need a final decision, and this opinion provides one,” Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant) said in a statement.

“This opinion is also the right decision to put those students back on the path to success and address the crippling problem presented by the worst of the worst schools in the city. House Republicans made stronger accountability and higher standards top priorities in the rescue of Detroit schools, because it was the right thing to do for Michigan children and the best way to improve education in the city.

“Today’s decision puts those accountability measures into action, protects the generous investment made by Michigan’s taxpayers, and finally allows the comeback of Detroit schools to begin.”

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