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Muskegon Heights Public Academy System receives multiple violations for lack of special education programs

Daniel Boothe
Daniel Boothe

Investigation by Michigan Department of Education finds district had virtually no special needs staff in place at start of year

According to the Michigan Department of Education, an investigation of the Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System’s special education program uncovered multiple violations.

The investigation by the state came after three parents of Muskegon Heights students filed formal complaints, claiming the district did not provide a special education teacher or provider when the school year began.

And the state agreed.

At this week’s board of education meeting, officials from the Muskegon ISD presented the investigation’s conclusion, reporting that the Muskegon Heights School District in fact did not provide an opportunity for students with special needs to enroll in Individualized Education Programs, or IEPs.

Karlie Parker is the Associate Superintendent of Special Education at Muskegon ISD and explains.

“The district did not have a school social worker, a physical therapist, a speech therapist, a psychologist, or a special education teacher. The implementation (of those positions) were all the responsibility of New Paradigm.”

Parker is referring to New Paradigm for Education, a charter school board charged with running the daily operations of Muskegon Heights, including hiring staff.

In response to the investigation’s findings, New Paradigm released this statement

“Since the beginning of the school year, we have worked and continue to work tirelessly to build our special education department…where services reflect the quality of education that students and families deserve.”

Parker’s response:

“If those things are taking place, they are not being communicated with us,” she said.

New Paradigm claims that as of today, there are 6 special education teachers as well as 8 non-instructional providers, however, Parker says, that the Muskegon ISD can not confirm that.

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