The following opinion is presented on-line for informational use only and does not replace the official version. (Mich Dept of Attorney General Web Site - www.ag.state.mi.us)



STATE OF MICHIGAN

MIKE COX, ATTORNEY GENERAL

PUBLIC SCHOOL ACADEMIES:

SCHOOLS AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS:

Charter school's authority to operate at multiple sites

Under the Revised School Code, a public school academy may operate at more than one site provided that it operates only a single site for each configuration of grades and only at the site or sites specified in the school's charter application and in the contract issued by its authorizing body.

Opinion No. 7126

March 6, 2003

Honorable Lisa Wojno
State Representative
The Capitol
Lansing, MI

You ask whether under the Revised School Code a public school academy (popularly called a charter school) may operate at more than one site.

Information supplied with your request indicates that a public school academy operates in one school building (grades K-5) at one street address in city A and operates in another school building (grades 6-10) at a different street address in the same city. Both building sites are specified in the school's charter application and in its authorizing contract.

In Part 6A of the Revised School Code, 1976 PA 451, MCL 380.1 et seq, the Legislature provided for the organization and operation of public school academies. MCL 380.501-380.507. A public school academy is defined as a "public school" and a "governmental agency." MCL 380.501. See Council of Organizations and Others for Education about Parochiaid v Governor, 455 Mich 557, 567; 566 NW2d 208 (1997). In order to organize and operate a public school academy, a person or entity must apply to an authorizing body for a contract. MCL 380.502(3). As part of its application, a proposed public school academy must include a description of, and address for, the proposed physical plant in which the academy will be located. MCL 380.502(3)(j).

If an authorizing body issues a contract for a public school academy, the contract must include certain information including a description of, and address for, the academy's proposed physical plant. MCL 380.503(5)(g). Section 504(1), MCL 380.504(1), addresses the siting of the public school academy:

A public school academy may be located in all or part of an existing public school building. A public school academy shall not operate at a site other than the single site requested for the configuration of grades that will use the site, as specified in the application required under section 502 and in the contract. [Emphasis added.]

The purpose of statutory interpretation is to ascertain and effectuate legislative intent. If the language employed in a statute is plain and unambiguous, the statute must be applied as written and no additional interpretation is necessary. Owendale-Gagetown School Dist v State Bd of Education, 413 Mich 1, 8; 317 NW2d 529 (1982). In construing a statute, it is presumed that every word has some meaning and every effort must be made to avoid a construction that would render any part surplusage or nugatory. Bommarito v Detroit Golf Club, 210 Mich App 287, 292-293; 532 NW2d 923 (1995).

Section 504(1) of the Revised School Code provides that a public school academy "shall not operate at a site other than the single site requested for the configuration of grades that will use the site." The word "configuration" is defined as an arrangement of parts. Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition (1988). To conclude that a public school academy may operate at only a single site would render the phrase "for the configuration of grades that will use the site" surplusage and thus violate the rule of statutory interpretation cited above.

To give meaning to every word in section 504(1) of the Revised School Code, it must be concluded that the Legislature has limited the number of sites at which a public school academy may conduct its operations to a single site for each configuration of grades. A public school academy may not, for example, operate three separate elementary schools under a single contract, all covering the same grades, at three separate locations. The statute does, however, permit a public school academy to operate at more than one site provided that it uses only a single site for each configuration of grades. Thus, a public school academy, like the one described in your inquiry, may operate one site for grades 1 through 5 and a second site for grades 6 through 10, subject, of course, to the further requirements that these sites have been specified in the school's charter application and in the contract issued by its authorizing body as required by sections 502(3)(j) and 503(5)(g) of the Revised School Code.

It is my opinion, therefore, that under the Revised School Code, a public school academy may operate at more than one site provided that it operates only a single site for each configuration of grades and only at the site or sites specified in the school's charter application and in the contract issued by its authorizing body.

MIKE COX
Attorney General