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State fines Muskegon Heights schools for hiring teachers without proper certification

The Muskegon Heights school system has been fined nearly $100,000 by the Michigan Department of Education. The department launched the investigation after Michigan Radio reported the new Muskegon Heights charter school district had about 10% of teachers working without a valid teaching certificate or permit. It’s against state law to do that.

The fine was issued in April but the results of the investigation were releasedby an MDE spokeswoman on Thursday. The department found eight teachers were not properly certified, in some cases for several months. Most of those teachers got the necessary permits within a week of the report.

The fines was issued based on how long each teacher was in the classroom without the proper credentials. The department will continue to assess a fine for one teacher through the end of the school year, likely pushing the total fines above one-hundred thousand dollars.

The school district was taken over by an emergency manager, who hired charter school company Mosaica Education to run Muskegon Heights schools for five years.

Although the findings could be grounds to revoke the contract with Mosaica, the emergency manager called talk of revoking the contract premature during an online chat on MLive.com Thursday. He declined requests for a recorded interview.

MDE couldn’t say immediately if any other school districts were issued similar fines, or if this case was an outlier. Earlier this year a spokesperson said about fifty districts are likely to be fined this year.

The state will withhold the fines from the June state aid payment to the district.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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