MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Muskegon Heights Academy board unanimously voted Thursday night to move to end its contract with its management firm, saying the firm had “egregious mismanagement.”

The Muskegon Heights Public School Academy Board of Directors voted 3-0 to end its contract with New Paradigm for Education.

The board described 15 ways it believes the firm breached its contract. It says it has 30 days to fix those breaches. Otherwise, board members are electing to exercise its 90-day notice to terminate its management services agreement without cause. It noted there “is no reason to believe” New Paradigm will be able to fix the breaches of contract.

The resolution to get rid of the management service accuses New Paradigm of “having a detrimental impact on its staff and students, and even more so for those with special needs.”

A lack of teachers at Muskegon Heights Academy led to upset parents and protesting students. At one point the school only had seven certified teachers, a teacher told News 8 in September.

Muskegon Heights Academy students rallied outside the school on Monday night to protest the company in charge of the district.
FILE – Muskegon Heights Academy students rally outside the school on Nov. 21 to protest the company in charge of the district.

“The Board of Directors and our community are disgusted and outraged with NPFE’s failure to serve and educate our students, to fulfill our constitutional and fiduciary duties as public officials, and NPFE’s creation of such a toxic operating environment that our workforce has been systematically depleted,” the board wrote in a letter to New Paradigm.

The board wrote that New Paradigm fostered a “culture of fear” amongst staff and would retaliate when they tried to raise issues.

“We also witnessed you taking a similar approach with our students. In fact, without the Board of Directors and our legal counsel’s intervention, you would have continued to violate students’ First Amendment rights when they walked out of the school in protest last fall,” the board wrote.

In the letter, the board said it believes the firm “used stamped signatures of past members no longer serving on the Board of Directors to withdraw public funds from our bank account.”

The board also said the management service was “rude and condescending” when it tried to address the issues.

It wrote the “lack of care and support you have shown for our most vulnerable special needs students is shameful.”

“The egregious mismanagement perpetuated by NPFE against the Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System is worse than non-performance under the MSA,” the board wrote. “NPFE’s failure to perform its duties shocks the conscience. Worse, NPFE’s failures and incompetence have inflicted such serious damage to MHPSAS, that its future is now in jeopardy.”

New Paradigm was given a list of nine actions it has to take by Feb. 15., including transferring data and records.

The Muskegon Heights Public School Academy has two boards. The elected board has oversight of the Public School Academy System Board, which handles review of day-to-day operations. The elected board appoints the members to the second board.