CFA principal Asenath Andrews and charter operator Blair Evans at press conference July 13 in school.

CFA wants 400 students, but will not have a “union environment”

Evans Solutions, Inc. management fees = 76% of current schools’ liabilities  

By Diane Bukowski 

DETROIT – Catherine Ferguson Academy Principal (CFA) Asenath Andrews was enthusiastic about the high school’s future, and her new boss, charter school operator Blair Evans, head of the for-profit Evans Solutions, Inc., was full of proposals, during a press conference held July 13.

 CFA is the Detroit Public School for “pregnant and parenting teens” whose students, along with By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), conducted a passionate campaign to keep it open after DPS czar Robert Bobb put it on the chopping block earlier this year, along with 40 others. 

CFA students and supporters at rally celebrating announcement it would not close, June 16.

Over a dozen young mothers were arrested for occupying the school April 15, leading to a national outcry and publicity for CFA’s unique program, including a spot on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow show. Teen mothers bring their babies and toddlers to school with them at CFA, and the children receive tutoring as well. Students also run an urban farm complete with crops and a horse, but the school has had a full educational curriculum and says 90 percent of its students graduate and go on to college. 

“Almost 6,000 girls in Detroit and Wayne County are not able to get an education because they become pregnant,” Andrews said. “Most don’t end up completing high school until the age of 29. Poverty kills people, and it starts at the age at which these young women have their first child. We need to start five more CFA’s, and I’m not clear why such schooling is not on the national agenda.” 

Tiny house called "yurta"

Andrews said CFA hopes to recruit 400 students in the fall, and has 100 applications so far. She said current students are passing out fliers in the community and distributing little folding mirrors with the slogan, “See yourself as a student at CFA.”  She said interested students can call 313-596-4771. 

Evans said the curriculum of the new school will include building “tiny houses” in a new economy where low wages are the rule, “permaculture,” a vague concept which appears to focus primarily on urban farming, and “fablabs,” which will be used to build the “tiny houses.” He said his company will also provide a greenhouse and international travel for the students. 

The daily media portrayed Evans as the school’s savior when he and Blanche Kelso Bruce Academy (BKBA), the company which hired Evans Solutions as its management company, came forward at the last minute to take it over. 

CFA summer school babies rolled down the hall July 13; it is not clear if workers with them will still have their jobs in the fall.

But the picture of the school’s future which he and Andrews painted at the press conference was short on confirmed details. 

Evans announced that BKBA is “not a union environment” and will not automatically retain its previous teachers and other staff. BKBA wants to hire 20 teachers and 22 aides to deal with the young children, according to Andrews, who said she has received about 12 resumes so far. Evans gave no specifics on wages, pensions and other conditions of employment. He estimated the school’s budget would run about $2 million.

He said the other schools his company manages through BKBA (click on VOD story at  for a list) have had experience with young pregnant women. He did not say his company has experience dealing with educating infants and toddlers. Most of BKBA’s schools are in correctional or involuntary, temporary residential facilities. 

Evans was vague about the history of the newly-incorporated Evans Solutions, which will be in charge as BKBA’s management company. Evans Solutions filed incorporation documents with the State of Michigan just six days before the press conference, on July 7.  VOD reported June 3 that no such papers were on file. They list the date of incorporation as July 7 and do not include a listing of officers. (Click on Evans 7 7 11 to view papers.)

Evans Solutions HQ at 8045 Second, former home of Akwaaba Center

 Evans said BKBA will get state per-pupil aid, federal Title I and other funding for at-risk students, and private foundation grants for CFA. Evans said he will also be looking at Head Start funding. 

The Wayne County administration, which has ties to the Evans brothers, recently bid on 600 federal Head Start positions for children. Dempsey Addison, President of the city’s Association of Professional and Technical Employees (APTE), said at a City Council meeting July 19 that Maor Dave Bing forbid the City of Detroit’s Human Services Department from bidding.

According to the 2009 Financial Statements for Blanche Kelso Bruce Academy, 76 percent of its total liabilities and 31.4 percent of its expenses went to its pay-outs to Evans Solutions. Records of how those payments were spent by Evans Solutions are not available since it is a for-profit corporation. (Click on BlancheKelsoBruceAcademy 2009 financial statements to read full documents.)

 Wayne County RESA, BKBA’s charter authorizer, has not responded to a Freedom of Information Act request from VOD for more detailed reports on the amounts of state, federal and other funding that BKBA receives. Click on MDE Charter school rules to see requirements for filing annual reports with state and posting online. IED’s like WRESA receive the state per-pupil funding for their authorized schools, while charters are allowed to apply on their own for other state, federal and private grants.

In its June, 2010 filing, WRSEA itself reported a total of $352.6 million largely in governmental revenues,$356.2 Million largely in expenses from governmental expenses, for a deficit of $3.7 million. 

The company was founded in 1998 by Blair Evans’ brother Warren Evans. It was incorporated in Georgia for unexplained reasons but was dissolved in 2002. (Click on  Evans Solutions Georgia filing for document.) Evans could not say what work it did it Georgia, and termed its failure to incorporate later in Michigan as a “glitch,” although it has been operating here for 10 years. He claimed the company has been paying taxes but produced no evidence of that. 

Warren Evans as police chief with Mayor Dave Bing

Warren Evans was formerly Wayne County Sheriff and Detroit Police Chief.

 “Evans Solutions will handle staffing, program administration, budget, finance, and transportation and food services [for CFA] out of its offices at 8045 Second Avenue,” Blair Evans said. He said his company leases the space from the Pan-African Orthodox Church, in the building  which used to house the Akwaaba Center. 

A biography of Warren Cleage Evans from his mayoral campaign website says he “comes from a very successful and politically active family.” 

“As a teenager, Evans was privileged to meet and hear such important civil rights leaders as Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the height of the Civil Rights Movement as they came to Detroit, often to speak at the church of Rev. Albert B. Cleage Jr., Evans’ uncle,” says the bio. “Evans says that those experiences instilled in him a passion to fight for social justice and equality that stays with him today.” 

The Pan-African Orthodox Church was founded by Rev. Cleage and is the parent organization of the Shrine of the Black Madonna.

CFA student with baby speaks June 16; at left with back to camera is CFA teacher Nicole Conaway, at right is BAMN organizer Tristan Taylor; they say the struggle will continue for full victory to maintain CFA as a Detroit public school


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