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Charter school changes name to Deer Trail Academy

April 03, 2013 - Oxford's new charter school hasn't even opened its doors yet and it's already changed its name because an educational institution on the East Coast asked it to do so.

Deerfield Academy will now be known as Deer Trail Academy following a March 26 vote of the charter school's five-member board of education.

According to Dr. Janet McPeek, president of Crossroads for Youth, the charter school's sponsor and host, they were contacted via e-mail March 13 by a representative of Deerfield Academy, located in Deerfield, Massachusetts, who requested the charter school pick a new name.

"I'm deeply concerned about the potential for confusion and I would politely ask your organization to choose a different name," wrote David Thiel, director of communications for Deerfield Academy.

Founded in 1797, the Deerfield Academy on the East Coast is an independent, four-year college-preparatory school with a target enrollment of 630 students and a 280-acre campus. With tuition that ranges from $15,780 to $47,500 annually, many of its students go on to Ivy League schools.

The Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts holds a trademark on that name.

"Right away, we told him we'd change the name," McPeek said. "Somebody wants us to change the name, we're going to change the name. That's not a big deal."

On March 14, Thiel was informed via e-mail that CS Partners, the Brighton-based education service provider for the charter school, would be choosing a new name.

"It was all very cordial and the matter was completely handled in less than 24 hours," McPeek noted.

The charter school was contacted by the Massachusetts school as a result of the March 13 Oxford Leader article regarding the swearing in of the new board of education.

"They must have had a crawler out for any publicity (concerning) anybody that uses that name," McPeek said.

McPeek made it clear the Massachusetts school did not apply any legal pressure whatsoever. "There was no threat of a lawsuit," she said. "Nothing quite that exciting. They were very nice about it."

McPeek indicated the charter school's name was previously approved, along with its articles of incorporation, by the Governor John Engler Center for Charter Schools, which has offices in Mt. Pleasant, Lansing and Troy. "There's so many schools all over the country with the same names," she said.

On the bright side, McPeek noted the charter school hadn't yet spent any money on signage or marketing materials bearing the Deerfield Academy name, so no funds were wasted.

Deer Trail Academy will open in the fall and serve students placed their by the court system, county juvenile agency or the Department of Human Services. The charter school will also enroll students who have been expelled or are on long-term suspension from other schools and special education students who would be best served by this type of institution, which is classified as a Strict Discipline Academy.

Crossroads for Youth will house the charter school on its campuses in Oxford Township and southern Oakland County

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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