The West Barnes Avenue property was listed in August for $750,000 at the request of the Shabazz Academy, a defunct public charter school that taught an Afrocentric curriculum. (Photo: Matthew Dae Smith)
The building that once housed El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz Academy is up for sale.
Board members of the now-defunct charter school have entered into a court-ordered process to sell the building at 1028 W. Barnes Ave. as a part of the academy’s dissolution. It is listed for $750,000.
The Shabazz Academy, named after slain civil rights leader Malcolm X, was Lansing’s final public charter school to offer an Afrocentric curriculum.
Central Michigan University informed the school’s board of directors last year that it would no longer authorize the institution’s charter, citing poor academic performance.
Just 6.1% of Shabazz students who took the M-STEP in the spring of 2018 were proficient in English, according to CMU. Statewide, students were 43.9% proficient.
Only 3.7% of Shabazz students were proficient in math, compared to 37.4% proficiency across Michigan.
Shabazz entered in an agreement in 2018 with the state Department of Education to address its low test scores. At the time, the school was among the lowest achieving public schools in the state.
Expenditures outweighed revenue in 2017 with the school spending $221,480 more than it took in, according to CMU data, though expenses were $126,054 below revenue the next year.
Only 260 students were enrolled at the academy in the 2019-2018 school year, according to CMU.
Shabazz did not find another college or university to authorize its charter and closed on June 29, 2019.
The building was once the Barnes Avenue School, which closed in 1979, and later Lansing Christian School, which sold the building to Shabazz in 2001.
Thomas E. Woods, of Cummins Woods Law, was appointed by the school’s attorney to handle the sale of the property. Woods said the Ingham County Circuit Court is overseeing the real estate transaction.
Attorney Melvin McWilliams, representing the school, asked the county to enter in a receivership for the property as the Shabazz Academy board sought to liquidate their assets on July 2, 2019, a day following CMU’s decision, according to a court order provided by Woods. Ingham County Circuit Court Judge James S. Jamo ordered the appointment to proceed.
The order transferred all financial and personnel documents, insurance policies and property inside the building, including but not limited to computer equipment, furniture and supplies, to Woods.
Pending litigation against the academy will be settled and paid through the building’s sale, as will $80,000 owed to creditors. Any additional income will be used to pay court-approved fees to Woods and other “fees and expenses that are necessary to the wind down and dissolution of Shabazz,” the order read in part.
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Eric Shertzing, Ingham County Treasurer, said the property was not delinquent in property taxes. No taxes would be assessed against the building until a sale is finalized.
Woods has been involved in the liquidation of 13 other charter schools in Michigan. His most recent transaction included a charter school in Ypsilanti.
Not a lot of interest was expressed on the property as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has “put a damper” on larger real estate transactions, he said.
“Some people have looked at it for a community center, assisted living, apartments and I haven’t shown it to someone who wanted to put it up as a charter school yet. It would need some painting and we’re working on the HVAC to get it ready for winter.”
Woods declined to list the property in an auction, saying he would not make as much versus a private sale, but it could be an option in the future if interest or a sale is not initiated.
McWilliams and academy board members deferred comments to Woods.
But Academy board President Cordree McConnell said in 2019 that the closure “is very difficult because it impacts the children, it’s affecting their parents and it affects the employees.
“We want to stay on,” McConnell said. “We have to deal with the hand we were dealt and make the best of it, while at the same time taking care of the children and the employees.”
Contact Krystal Nurse at (517) 290-3044 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @KrystalRNurse.
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