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Muskegon Heights emergency manager signs charter school contract – will reveal Monday

Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio

The emergency manager of Muskegon Heights Public Schools says he’s signed a contract with a charter operator that will practically run the whole school district next school year.

In a press release sent out this afternoon, Emergency Manager Don Weatherspoon says he’ll review the signed contract during a public meeting on Monday. The statement doesn’t say which charter school company got the deal. Weatherspoon was not available to discuss the release.

He also appointed three community members to a new school board that will help the emergency manager oversee the new charter. The board will help set policy, manage resources and maintain accountability. He says he’ll review the contract with the board during its first meeting Monday afternoon.

The original elected school board asked the state for an emergency manager last December. It no longer has authority over the district, which is running a $12 million dollar deficit.

From the release:

Carmella Ealom, Education Planner for the State of Michigan-Department of Human Services; Arthur Scott, Owner/Operator of JAAR, Inc. McDonald’s Corporation; and Darryl Todd, Paralegal will oversee the charter school set to open in the fall. “Every child deserves the opportunity to receive a proper education,” said newly appointed board member Arthur Scott. “Today we are competing in a global market place; if our kids are not prepared we will continue to find ourselves in a secondary position. I feel an obligation and commitment to help them to succeed.” Carmella Ealom has worked to improve the lives of children in various roles over the past eight years. She currently serves as an Education Planner with the Michigan Department of Human Services. In this role, she assists foster care youth with their educational needs in Muskegon, Ottawa, and Allegan Counties. Ealom holds a Master of Arts in Counseling from Spring Arbor University and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Psychology degree at Capella University. Ealom said, “As a board member my goal is to assure that the children of Muskegon Heights have the academic foundation needed to compete and excel with other students within the county and throughout the nation.” Arthur Scott is the Owner/Operator of JAAR, Inc. McDonalds Corporation which operates 9 McDonald’s in the Muskegon and Coopersville area. Scott is a well-known business leader. He has earned numerous awards during his 31-year career with McDonald’s Corporation. Darryl Todd, a Muskegon Heights Public Schools graduate, is a former Account Executive with Pitney Bowes. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Todd recently completed a post-graduate certificate in paralegal studies with Davenport University. Mr. Todd has volunteered with Muskegon Heights Public Schools in the past. When asked why he is serving as a board member Todd said, “In every crisis there is an opportunity. I am excited and humbled to serve as a part of a solution that will return the school's focus to preparing children to be productive citizens.”

Muskegon Heights Public Schools is one of three K-12 districts in the state run by emergency managers. The emergency manager at Highland Park schools plans to implement a similar charter model in the fall.

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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