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Muskegon Heights school board says it needs more communication from district's managing firm to develop corrective action plan

The academy board was asked to develop a plan to address issues with the special education program, curriculum, staffing and more.

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. — The Muskegon Heights Public School Academy Board says it needs more communication from the firm managing the district, New Paradigm for Education, to develop a corrective action plan.

The academy board was asked to develop a plan to address issues with the special education program, curriculum, staffing and more. The plan was requested by the district board at the end of September, and the academy board was given an extension two weeks ago. 

Now, they say they're having problems creating that plan because of a lack of communication with New Paradigm For Education.

"There's a lot of work to be done," Antonette Robinson, Academy Board President says. "That's what were here for. Thank you again, and again, and again."

At the start of Monday night's meeting, Robinson kicked things off by thanking the community for their patience as they work to find solutions.

"Can't nobody tell y'all what you can and can't say," David Fox, Academy Board Treasurer says. "Keep showing up, keep showing up." 

Now, the academy board is sending the district board a letter to let them know why the plan is still in the works.

"The letter is basically outlining areas of concern, based on data that only New Paradigm has," Dr. Don Weatherspoon with the National Charter Schools Institute says. "You can't develop a plan and present a plan without data, so (the academy board is) at a standstill at the moment."

The team at the National Charter Schools Institute is working as a consultant to the academy board. Dr. Weatherspoon says the board needs more communication and information from New Paradigm.

"There hasn't been any formal written communication or verbal communication, based on my understanding," he says. "One of the other things is the (financial) audit has been submitted to the state, but the board hasn't had a chance to review it. A lot of financial data is in need to be presented to this board and digested by this board."

The academy board also voted to send a letter to New Paradigm with the questions they have, on operations, finances, staffing and the special education program.

"We need information in order to make a plan," Dr. Weatherspoon says. "That's a reasonable approach."

Last week, New Paradigm was notified of a breach of contract. They have 30 days to respond. Dr. Weatherspoon says they haven't heard anything from them since.

"The most important part here is what's happening for these kids? Because they can't wait," he says.

If New Paradigm for Education does not respond to the academy board with solutions within the next three weeks, the institute has recommended the board declare a breach of contract.

That can include withholding state and federal funds to New Paradigm, except for teachers' salaries.

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