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Oakland University Board of Trustees approved the Public School Academy Chartering Policy in 1995 for schools to be located in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties with the hope of making a difference in the education of children in its external environs.

With just seven schools in close proximity to the University, opportunities exist for OU to have an involved and active relationship with the schools as well as to foster an atmosphere of collaboration and partnerships among the academies.  Academy staff and students are frequent visitors to the campus for both academic and cultural activities. The diverse programs in the schools provide distinct educational choices for families. Yet, each school prides itself in reaching high standards of quality and achievement.

We welcome you to explore what our academies have to offer. If you would like more information regarding Oakland University authorized schools please contact our office or email us at [email protected]. Educational quality and choice for all families.

In 1993, Michigan became the ninth state in the country to enact a charter school law. The first charter schools opened shortly after in 1994. A charter school must be chartered by the governing board of a public body that is authorized to issue charter contracts pursuant to Michigan law. In Michigan, an “authorizing body” means any of the following:

  • Public university
  • Community college
  • K-12 local education agency
  • Intermediate school district

Unique to Michigan is the ability of public universities to charter schools, and eight (8) Universities have chosen to do so. Early in the charter school movement ten (10) authorizers joined together and created the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers (MCCSA). Michigan was a pioneer in creating a chartering system that relied upon multiple authorizers to bring systemic change to the educational landscape.

As an "Authorizer," Oakland University issues contracts that establish Public School Academies as public schools and enables them to receive state funding. Per-pupil state aid funds follow a child to a Public School Academy, which operates within the confines of a traditional school governance.

The contract establishes the framework within which the school operates and provides public support for a specified period. Each Academy maintains autonomy over its operations. In exchange for flexibility afforded by the contract, the schools are held accountable for achieving specific goals, including improving student performance and compliance with federal and state laws.

An authorizer is charged with oversight of the academies. An authorizer does not operate a school, but ensures that the school is being operated well by the school’s board of directors through its oversight activities.

Oakland University focuses on three areas of oversight:

  • Governance - School Boards of Directors and Administrators
  • Finance - School Budget, State Aid and Funding
  • Education - Student Achievement and Curriculum

Why Authorize?
Oakland University is committed to educational quality and a diverse student population. Active involvement within our communities is a hallmark of the University. Oakland University authorizes schools only within Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties. We have intentionally chosen this restriction, and to maintain a small portfolio of schools. Of the eight University authorizers in the state, Oakland University is geographically the closest to the schools it charters. It is imperative that a University in such close proximity as OU to a major urban area work to solidify the K-12 educational environment from which many of its students will come. The opportunities for collaboration and engagement are enhanced with this proximity. Academy staff and students are frequent visitors to the campus for both academic and cultural activities. Academies are located near enough to each other to foster an atmosphere of mutual cooperation but situated to avoid competition for enrollment. Diverse program offerings in the schools provide distinct educational choices for families. Oakland University has sought since its entry into authorizing, to be mindful of its original purpose, to meet the needs of a culturally economically and ethnically diverse student body. We consider it our responsibility to adopt a progressive and focused effort in making sure that the quality of education that our most challenged populations receive is comparable to that of our most gifted. The placement of the Public School Academies Office within the School of Education and Human Services demonstrates further our commitment to excellence, marshalling the strength of its programs and faculty to increase the proficiency and expertise of Academy teachers and administrators. Through our authorizing practices, Oakland University endeavors to be a leader in serving the needs and aspirations of our communities and region. Oakland University is making a genuine and purposeful impact on the lives of Academy students and their families.

The Vision of OU/PSA is to advance excellence in public education through choice, accountability and responsible stewardship of the resources entrusted to us.

The mission of the OU/PSA is to support quality charter schools through leadership in educational initiatives at the national, state and local levels and to ensure accountability through effective performance evaluation.


  • School achievement is measured by individual student performance.
  • Accountability includes student achievement, compliance and fiscal responsibility.
  • Data is critical for informing decisions.
  • Effective governance, strong educational leadership, and great teachers are the most important components of a successful school.
  • Student support extends beyond the classroom and the University contributes to that support.

OU chartered schools offer the diversity of options envisioned by the Oakland University Board of Trustees when it approved the Public School Academy Chartering Policy in 1995. The scope of policy did not include a specified number of schools. Our first school opened its doors to 100 students in 1996. By way of this modest entry into the chartering arena, OU joined other universities, intermediate school districts, community colleges and local school districts across the state in responding to the call for more educational choice. OU has grown over the years and currently charters seven schools with over 4800 students.

Charter Growth
The number of Michigan students who attend charter schools has grown from 12,047 students in 1996-97 to over 150,000 in 2018-19. The percentage of students in K-12 charter schools now stands at 9.3%. The charter school movement has served to increase the choices parents have in how and where to educate their children. Prior to the introduction of charter schools, children attended the geographically designated school assigned to them by their local district. If families were not satisfied with that option, they basically had two choices – send their child to a private school or move to another district. Charter schools have empowered parents by giving them a voice in the education of their child.

Educational Choice
Charters have influenced parental choice within traditional school districts as well. The percentage of students utilizing inter-district choice options, living in one school district and attending school in another, has increased steadily since the introduction of charter schools. In 1996-97, the percentage of students attending schools of choice was 0.5% of all Michigan students. That percentage climbed to 4.9%, or 79,231 students, in 2008-09 as parents and educators began to see beyond the boundaries of their local school district and focus on providing increased opportunities for families.

The task of preparing the youth of today to be college or workforce-ready has made it crucial that K-12 schools deliver on their obligations to offer academic programs that reshape the focus of instruction and raise student achievement. With a resounding “yes,” Michigan parents have demonstrated that they want to have “choice” in deciding which schools their children attend.

Office of Public School Academies

Pawley Hall, Room 420J
456 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-4596
Fax: (248) 370-4239