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Muskegon Heights Academy school board hears recommendations to address special education program violations

The district is still searching for a new superintendent, and the board is currently considering three applications.

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. — The Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System is moving forward with recommendations from Muskegon Area Intermediate School District to address violations in the district's special education program. 

Last month, MAISD shared their investigation that multiple students in the program were not getting the services they need. 

Monday night, the district says their managing firm, New Paradigm for Education, met the first deadline put forth by MAISD. 

The academy board was required to do a review of every student with an individualized education plan and submit it to the state, as well as review all the program's teachers and providers on their certifications to determine if the district needs more. 

At the meeting, the board voted three to one to partially pay New Paradigm for their services, which president Dr. Rose Hunt says has not happened in about six months.

"Those services are still under scrutiny, and so the exact amount hasn't been determined yet. We need to have some conversations with some of the members of New Paradigm, but we are going to pay something toward that because it has been six months," Dr. Hunt says. "If services continue to be delayed and the progress has not improved, then we'll have to take a look at going forward what were going to do."

The board unanimously approved to withdraw their lawsuit against the district board of education, because their lawsuit was filed with people previously on the academy board.

"The district board and the system boards have had the opportunity to meet in closed session and discuss their differences through negotiations," Eric Delaporte, the board's attorney, says. 

Former board president Leslie Kitchen-Slater was brought on the new vice president, and the board hired a recording secretary to work until they get more members and appoint one as secretary.

The district is still searching for a new superintendent. The board says they've gotten three letters of interest, and they will close the application listing by the end of January. Then, they will start the interview process.

"Continue to be patient as you can," David Fox, academy board treasurer, says. "The goal is to get these kids educated. That's the number one goal, (the) only goal."

The next deadline to address the special education program violations is coming up at the end of this month, to determine how and when to reimburse the time to students that did not receive the services they need. 

At the meeting, the academy board also unanimously voted to pay overdue invoices and add the vice president as an additional signatory.  

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