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Understanding in Principle for Muskegon Heights Schools

LANSING— To assure that students in the Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System are able to finish out the school year and teachers and all other staff members still be employed, the New Paradigm For Education management organization would remain the provider of most education services through the remainder of the current school year, subject to approval of the public school academy board and New Paradigm, based on an understanding in principle from a meeting earlier today.

The charter school board and its education management organization, New Paradigm, have disagreed over the operation of the district this year. The teachers in the district are employed by New Paradigm, so an ending of the contract during the school year was deeply problematic for the continuation of instruction for the students.

“A transition plan is being finalized to make sure Muskegon Heights students continue to receive instruction and school staff continue to get paid and have benefits,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “This transition plan between the PSA and New Paradigm will help facilitate as smooth and as effective a transition from one education management organization to another and from one local superintendent to another—all in the best interest of the students and school staff.”

Today, leadership of the district board, the charter school board, New Paradigm, the intermediate school district, and the Michigan Department of Education met to discuss elements of a necessary transition plan for the remainder of the 2022-2023 school year.

With the understanding in principle from today’s meeting, the charter school district’s contract with New Paradigm would be a one-year agreement instead of a five-year agreement.

During the final four months of the contract through the end of the current school year, New Paradigm would continue to provide many of the services under the contract related to the core functions of the education of students. At the same time, however, the PSA would be responsible for a small number of the services previously provided by New Paradigm.

“We appreciate New Paradigm’s professionalism to remain until the end of the school year. It’s important to us to have a stable educational environment through the end of the school year to make sure there is a smooth transition and no disruption for students and staff,” said Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System board president, Dr. Rose Hunt.

“The Board of Education supports maintaining the Public School Academy’s current relationship with New Paradigm for Education, its charter school management company, for the balance of the academic year in order to prevent disruptions in student learning as well as continue staff compensation and benefit processes,” said Muskegon Heights School board president, Trinell Scott. “We look forward to working closely with the PSA’s board of directors as it considers future management company options and a new superintendent. The Board of Education will continue to have open dialogue with the PSA board, local families, students and our community to provide the very best, local education for our students.”

The charter school district is working to appoint an interim superintendent and has begun the search for both a permanent superintendent and new education management organization, to be concluded in the next few months. New Paradigm will work with the interim superintendent to facilitate an effective transition with a new education management organization through June 30, 2023, as needed.

The charter school board will agree to pay all outstanding management fees in full to New Paradigm by March 1, 2023 and all future payments will be made in a timely manner.

A transition plan with New Paradigm is being finalized and will be voted on by the charter school board on Monday, February 27.

“In this transition and in the ensuing years, we need to stay focused on the education and support of children,” said Dr. Rice.