Michigan Lt. governor is monitoring Muskegon Heights schools

Teachers and parents have taken issue with teacher shortages, and what they call a lack of transparency and communication within the district.

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan’s Lt. Governor is weighing in on concerns at Muskegon Heights Public Schools after school leaders held multiple meetings to address staffing issues and other concerns.

Teachers and parents have taken issue with teacher shortages and a lack of transparency and communication within the district.

During a special meeting Tuesday night, both of the district’s boards met to hash out their differences.

That meeting closed with at least some sort of resolution, with each side agreeing they made progress.

RELATED: Muskegon Heights education leaders clash at special school board meeting

During a news conference in Lansing about student loan forgiveness being tax-free in Michigan, 13 ON YOUR SIDE asked the Lieutenant Governor if anyone including teachers or staff have reached out to his office.

He said he couldn’t speak specifically to individuals reaching out, but what he could say was he and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has prioritized getting resources to districts so they can hire trained education professionals to serve and he acknowledged that some districts have struggled with that.

“We also have seen districts use the record funding we’ve delivered per pupil to improve teacher pay to be able to recruit more teachers,” said Gilchrist. “We’re making more tools available to more districts and certainly we’re paying close attention to what’s going on in Muskegon Heights.”

He added when he’s in Muskegon, which will be soon, he’s confident he’ll be paying a visit to parents and education professionals in the Heights.

On Tuesday, the meeting began with district board president Trinell Scott reading a letter sent to PSA board members in the last month, calling for professionalism.

“Any board member unable to understand our request should consider other opportunities for service,” read Scott.

PSA board members later addressed the letter, saying they felt offended and threatened they’d be fired for speaking out against district management, New Paradigm for Education.

PSA board member David Fox also called the letter untruthful, for invalidating teachers’ claims of being understaffed and overworked as rumours.

“So y’all are telling us all these teachers coming up here with all these facts and emails we showed y’all are rumors and assumptions,” Fox asked the board.

One of those allegations made by staff and parents in the district was that students at the high school have been in the gym instead of being in class because of a lack of staff.

New Paradigm president Ralph Bland called the allegation untrue.

“I don’t think kids are in the gym coloring in the high school,” says Bland.

A parent who says they volunteer in the school building disagrees.

“You lying and the truth ain’t in you right now,” they said to Bland.

Bland says New Paradigm will be able to get the district back on track once it has more time and resources.

“We’re not happy because we can’t implement the model that we want to implement to give the students the best quality education that we made the commitment to do,” says Bland.

The meeting closed with some sort of resolution, with each side agreeing to place an interim superintendent and begin the search for a permanent superintendent for the district.

The PSA board now has three weeks to draft a corrective action plan to better improve communication and workflow between the two boards and New Paradigm.

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