Quarter of new Muskegon Heights teachers quit

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MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. (AP) — A quarter of the newly hired teachers in the struggling Muskegon Heights school district have quit since a private for-profit company picked by the state-appointed emergency financial manager took over its operations.

The school board in the western Michigan district asked for an emergency manager a year ago in the face of a chronic deficit and declining enrollment. At the time, the district had 1,400 students, down a third in five years. It also had a deficit of about $9.4 million.

The state emergency financial manager laid off all the previous employees, and Mosaica Education Inc. hired 80 teachers for the fall semester. Since then, 20 of the teachers have quit.

Muskegon Heights High School senior Tony Harris told Michigan Radio (http://bit.ly/VrCNDe ) that the turnover has been disruptive.

"It's confusing because I go from this learning process to this learning process to that learning process and it's just ridiculous how some teachers leave and we have to start all over and learn something new," Harris said. "It's just, it's crazy."

He said he's had two math teachers quit and a number of substitutes in between them.

Mosaica regional vice president Alena Zachery-Ross said some teachers quit because no discipline policy was in place, while others left for jobs with better pay and benefits at traditional public schools. She said the high school principal quit before classes started.

"We've had a turnover of staff that we did not anticipate," said Zachery-Ross.

Zachary-Ross said she can understand the decision of the teachers who left out of "their concern for their own family. I just want the stability for our own students."

"We've hired the best (teachers) we could find but some people were just not expecting how tough it's going to be," said Mosaica Education co-founder and President Gene Eidelman. "We ... tried to give as much information as we can, but also we didn't know what we we're going to be facing."

Eidelman said the turnover rate "really has come down. The teachers are much more comfortable."

New York-based Mosaica Education operates 90 elementary, middle and high school programs in 12 U.S. states, Britain, India and the United Arab Emirates, according to its website.

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Information from: WUOM-FM, http://www.wuom.org

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