Contents of this issue:


  • MEAP security was compromised in Hartland
  • School board elections moved to November in even-numbered years
  • Bill banning political payroll deductions heads to House
  • School districts required to create anti-bullying policy
  • Muskegon Heights school board asks for emergency manager

MEAP Security Was Compromised in Hartland


HARTLAND, Mich. — A breach of MEAP test security occurred at Creekside Elementary School in the Hartland Consolidated Schools, according to the Livingston Daily Press & Argus.

An anonymous tip from a staff member sparked a Michigan Department of Education investigation, which found that “a staff member was able to recite the exact prompt that appears on the 2011 fourth-grade writing test, even though the administration of the test had not yet occurred,” according to the Livingston Daily. They also learned test materials had been removed from their shrink wrap and were left sorted by grade level in an unsecured room.

“There were irregularities, someone knew the writing prompt and that is not acceptable,” Hartland Superintendent Janet Sifferman told The Livingston Daily. She also told the paper that the district will now store all MEAP materials in its central office. Former Creekside Principal Tracey Sahouri has been reassigned as an assistant principle at Hartland High School.

Students took an alternate form of the MEAP, which was administered by state officials. DoE spokesperson Martin Ackley told the Livingston Daily it was “fortunate that this breach was caught during the testing window. If misadministration is caught after the window, the only recourse for the state is to invalidate the student scores for that test, which is not in the best interests of the students.”

SOURCE:

Livingston Daily Press and Argus, "State: MEAP Security Was Compromised," Dec. 2, 2011

FURTHER READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Teaching Requires Testing,” Oct. 8, 2009


School Board Elections Moved to November in Even-Numbered Years


ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder recently signed two new laws requiring all school board elections be held on the Tuesday following the first Monday of November in even-numbered years, according to the Ann Arbor Journal, meaning “fully 90 percent” of Michigan’s 550 public school districts will have to alter their election schedule in some way.

The Ann Arbor Journal reports only 51 Michigan school boards currently hold elections in November of even-numbered years. The majority of school boards (328) hold elections every May. Of the rest, 38 districts hold elections in odd-year Novembers, 109 hold an election every November, and 24 hold elections in May of odd-years. The state estimates the move will save districts around the state between $7 million and $8 million annually, the Journal reported.

Implementing the new law will affect some term lengths, as in Ann Arbor where four school board trustees will now see their terms extended, according to the Journal.

SOURCE:

The Ann Arbor Journal, “New Laws Move School Board Elections to Even-Year Novembers, Starting in 2012,” Dec. 3, 2011

FURTHER READING:

MichiganVotes, “2011 House Bill 4006 (Require school elections be in November to revise details in the state election law to conform with the election consolidation provisions proposed by House Bill 4005)”


Bill Banning Political Payroll Deductions Heads to House


LANSING, Mich. — The House Redistricting and Elections Committee approved legislation banning public employers from using payroll deduction to collect political donations, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

According to The Press, the bills come in response to a June Michigan Supreme Court ruling on a case involving the MEA and the Gull Lake school district in Kalamazoo County which prohibited the deductions even if the political action committee reimbursed the public employer. Committee Chairman Pete Lund, R-Shelby Township, said the bills were intended to put the court’s ruling into state law.

“What this aims to do is keep politics out of government operations,” Lund told The Press. “Government should not be a part of the political process.”

State Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, told The Press workers would still be allowed to make PAC donations. “Nothing here prevents public employees from writing checks to political action committees or candidates,” he said.

Opponents claim the bills are aimed at keeping unions from helping Democrats. “The real goal here is to hurt unions and their ability to contribute to candidates,” Rep. David Nathan, D-Detroit, told The Press.

SOURCES:

The Grand Rapids Press, “Bill banning public employers from using payroll deduction to collect political donations heads to House,’” Dec. 6, 2011

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Capitol Confidential, “House Ready to Move Bills Prohibiting Automatic Union PAC Deductions


School Districts Required to Create Anti-Bullying Policy


LANSING, Mich. — Michigan school districts have six months to adopt a policy against bullying, according to Converge Magazine. The districts will also need to submit a copy of their policy to the Michigan Department of Education. Michigan is the 48th state to adopt such legislation.

Converge Magazine reports that the law “defines bullying as a written, verbal or physical act or electronic communication that's likely to harm students.”

About 85 percent of school boards already have a bullying and/or harassment policy in place, Converge Magazine reported.

SOURCES:

Converge Magazine, “Michigan Requires School Districts to Create Anti-Bullying Policy,” Dec. 7, 2011

FURTHER READING:

MichiganVotes, “2011 House Bill 4163 (Require School Bullying Policies)”


Muskegon Heights School Board Asks for Emergency Manager


MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. — The Muskegon Heights school board, facing a $10 million overspending crisis, recently voted to ask the state to appoint an emergency manager, according to The Muskegon Chronicle.

The Chronicle also reported that the district’s debt could reach $12 million soon and that it owes nearly $900,000 to the state school employee retirement system.

“It's our understanding there should not be any issues preventing this from moving forward,” Superintendent Dana Bryant, who will be retiring in December, told The Chronicle. State law, however, requires two separate reviews of a district’s finances before the governor can make such an appointment, which could be time consuming, according to The Chronicle.

The school board has requested Marios Demetriou, the deputy superintendent for the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District, be appointed as the emergency financial manager, The Chronicle reported. Demetriou, previously the chief financial officer for the Flint Area Schools, has been with the MAISD since 2004. The Chronicle also reported that school board members said they would continue to serve the district.

SOURCE:

The Muskegon Chronicle, “Muskegon Heights call for emergency manager prompted by overwhelming debt,” Dec. 8, 2011

FURTHER READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Mackinac Center Recommendations Found In New Financial Emergency Legislation,” March 17, 2011


MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report, an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Lorie Shane at med@educationreport.org

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