Our History

Bay Mills Community College (BMCC) first became interested in the charter school movement when it realized that college students were ill prepared for basic college courses and felt that the system was unable to meet the needs of not only Native students but non-Native students alike.

Since the beginning, BMCC has held a very unique position as the only minority college authorizer in the United States and as the only authorizer not subject to the charter school cap. BMCC has endured many biased obstacles and bureaucratic hurdles.

Below is a timeline showing the history of BMCC as a charter school authorizer.


Bay Mills Indian Community chartered the College to serve the post-secondary educational needs of Native Americans throughout the state.
Under federal law, the College is a recognized community college entitled to receive federal funding under the Tribally Controlled Community College Assistance Act of 1978.



Former Michigan Governor John Engler signed into law PA362-1993, authorizing the creation of a new kind of Michigan public school – a public school academy or charter school.
A charter school is created by the issuance of a “contract” by a recognized state educational body (K-12 school districts, intermediate school districts, community colleges and state public universities).



The College was accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools – Commission on Higher Learning. BMCC is the only accredited tribally controlled community college located in the State of Michigan.
A “cap” was placed on the number of contracts that the governing boards of state public universities could issue.
Although there is a cap on the number of contracts that can be issued by state public universities, there is no cap on the number of contracts that can be issued by the governing boards of community colleges.



BMCC College Board engaged in a series of substantive legal discussions with both the Governor’s Office and the Michigan Attorney General’s Office in an attempt to issue contracts under state law.
As a result of outstanding legal objections, the College was unable to act as a charter school authorizing body.



The cap of 150 contracts was reached in 1998.


2000 (Summer):

A provision was added to Michigan’s Revised School Code clarifying the authority of a College Board to act as a charter school authorizing body.


2000 (December):

The College Board issued two charter school contracts for schools in Arts & Technology Academy of Pontiac and Bay County Public School Academy.



A request for legal opinion was submitted to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office concerning the College Board’s geographical boundaries as authorizing body.
Attorney General Jennifer Granholm issued a formal opinion interpreting the Bay Mills Community College Board’s authorizing authority to be consistent with the College’s service area, which encompasses the entire State of Michigan.
Bay Mills Community College was exempt from the legislative cap, giving the College the ability to respond to the demand for new charters when no one else could.



Cohort I begins the renewal process.



BMCC CSO requires all students to be assessed by a nationally norm referenced assessment a minimum of twice per year to ensure they are on track for career and college readiness.



The state legislature lifted the cap on the number of contracts that can be issued by state universities (Bay Mills was never subject to the legislative cap).
Bay Mills currently authorizes 43 schools across the state.
The CSO switched the compliance oversight software from Papervision to Epicenter, formally known as AIOS, to improve document accuracy and timeliness.
The CSO implemented the use of Elevate 360, which uses academic data provided by nationally normed referenced assessments and produces reports in a graphical representation to show student achievement, growth, and career/college readiness.



Ended relationship with QPR, a contracted oversight company, and hired staff to oversee visits and board meetings for the 40 schools Bay Mills authorized.
Cohorts I and V start the reauthorizing process.



Transitioned from Dr. Patrick Shannon to Mr. Michael Parish overseeing Bay Mills Charter Schools Office.
Authorized 42 schools.
Hired Chad DePetro as the Charter School Office in house attorney, thereby bringing more BMCSO Charter Contract work into the office and reducing the reliance on outside law firms.



Phased out use of Elevate 360 to work directly with NWEA and Scantron for direct testing data.
Currently authorizes 42 schools.
Cohorts III and VII start the reauthorizing process.
Continuing the office reorganization and staff is assuming more responsibility as they become more comfortable with their roles.