About us

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 Oakland University Difference

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  psa@oakland.edu. Educational quality and choice for all 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.