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Muskegon Heights schools emergency manager send out 158 pink slips

Three members of the Muskegon Heights’ school board have resigned, the same day the district’s emergency manager also announced he’s laying off more than 150 employees.

This is the second week on the job for the emergency manager of Muskegon Heights schools. On Wednesday, Don Weatherspoon made two announcements; that he’s delivered pink slips to 158 employees – including teachers, administrators and support staff. And two, that he’s accepted the resignations of three members of the school board.

The school board members say they resigned in support of the emergency manager, which they requested last December. The school board president declined to comment but the three said this in a written statement:

“Board President Avery Burrel stated, “Back in December when we as a board came to understand the magnitude of our debt, we set aside our personal pride to ask the state for an Emergency Manager. Now it’s time for us to allow Dr. Weatherspoon to complete the task he is charged with. We want it to be clear to this community that the EM has full authority over this district.” Burrel has served on the Muskegon Heights Public School Board for the past 11 years. “We are in effect passing the torch,” said Ron Jenkins a board member since 2007. “We are clearing the way for the re-creation of the district under the leadership of the Emergency Manager,” he added. Jenkins indicated that he has “faith in God that Dr. Weatherspoon’s decisions will help the children in the long run. While these will be tough times, I believe Dr. Weatherspoon has the best interest of our children and our community in mind,” said Jenkins. “My advocacy will not end with my board membership, but I will continue to speak on behalf of my own son,” added Jenkins. Ivory Morris, who has served on the board for the past 13 years said, “The decision we made months ago to request an Emergency Manager was the right one; our decision today is too. I am convinced that Dr. Weatherspoon will do things that will help the young people in our community. The focus needs to stay on our kids.” ”

Weatherspoon did not yet return calls requesting comment, but also issued a written statement about the pink slips handed out today.

The letter cited “urgent financial circumstances surrounding the district.” In the letters, Weatherspoon wrote that he “regretted the uncertainty which results from the notice…” but that the “action is being taken to provide the flexibility required to accomplish the reorganization of the School District.”

Lindsey Smith helps lead the station'sAmplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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