Contents of this issue:
  • Students forced to retake MEAP writing test
  • Legislature continues "equity payment"
  • Volunteer coach found guilty in death of student
  • Former Saline school student arrested for internet threats
  • MESSA accepts Marshall decision
  • Comment and win an iPod

JACKSON, Mich. — The fifth and sixth grade students across Michigan who recently took the writing portion of the Michigan Educational Assessment Program test will have to retake it after a Jackson Citizen Patriot reporter revealed the writing prompts in a feature article, according to The Citizen Patriot.

State officials are still determining the details of the statewide re-examination, and it is unclear how many of the 260,000 fifth and sixth graders will be affected. MEAP testing typically takes place in three-week windows to fit district schedules. This testing period began Oct. 8 and will end on Oct. 26, The Citizen Patriot reported.

"We haven't come up against this problem until now," Martin Ackley, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Education, told The Citizen Patriot.

State officials are completing an investigation on the Jackson Community Schools, and the district may face repercussions, according to Ackley. The MEAP office also sent out letters to school districts explaining that Michigan's Adequate Yearly Progress status may be in jeopardy if the writing test is deemed invalid by the U.S. Department of Education, according to The Citizen Patriot.

The author of the news story, Chad Livengood, was allowed by school officials to interview students and was unaware of the effect his story would have, The Citizen Patriot reported.

"I feel bad about the problems this simple feature story has caused," Livengood told The Citizen Patriot. "I apologize for any problems this story created, but I'm not an expert on MEAP rules."

The Jackson Citizen Patriot, "Story forces MEAP retest," Oct. 12, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Which Educational Achievement Test is Best for Michigan? A Comparison of the MEAP, SAT-9, and ITBS," Sept. 8, 2002

LANSING, Mich. — Under the state's new budget deal, at least $20 million will be spent on districts with a foundation allowance below a certain amount, according to The Muskegon Chronicle.

Legislators are still uncertain as to how much districts may receive, but House Education Chairman Tim Melton said three-fourths of the state's public school districts and charter schools could receive these funds. The state's goal is to decrease the gaps between district foundation allowances. Last year, district foundation allowances ranged from $7,085 to more than $12,000, The Chronicle reported.

The Legislature also included a 1 percent funding increase for public schools. Through the deal, districts could receive an additional $70 per pupil from the state, The Chronicle reported.

"School districts all over are losing students," Mona Shores Superintendent Terry Babbitt told The Chronicle. "So even when you get a per-pupil increase, if you're losing students you're continuing to lose ground."

The Muskegon Chronicle, "Lower-funded schools get more state aid," Oct. 9, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "State Categorical Payments," in "A Michigan School Money Primer," May 30, 2007

DETROIT — An Ecorse High School volunteer coach was found guilty of providing drugs to a 17-year-old girl who then died from an overdose, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Deleon Alexander II, 28, was found guilty of delivery of a controlled substance resulting in death, as well as delivery of a controlled substance. The first charge may result in life in prison, while the second carries a maximum sentence of 20 years and a $25,000 fine, the Free Press reported.

In March, Stephanie Brown, then a senior at Wyandotte High School, collapsed in a hotel after Alexander provided her with cocaine and ecstasy. Elizabeth Walker, Wayne County deputy chief of special prosecutions, said that the jury was probably moved to their decision through the testimony of a medical examiner who said the student had five times the amount of drugs in her system necessary to cause death, according to the Free Press.

"I'm certainly very disappointed in the jury's verdict; I think the jury was just wrong," Alexander's defense attorney Maria Mannarino told the Free Press. "There were a lot of questions raised and a lot of reasons to believe what Mr. Alexander did was not the cause of that young woman's death. ... The incontrovertible fact was Mr. Alexander delivered a very small amount of cocaine that was shared with the other girl who survived."

Detroit Free Press, "Dealer Guilty in teen's death," Oct. 12, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Parents Still Have an Option to Check Kids' Safety," Feb. 2, 2006

SALINE, Mich. — A former Saline Area Schools student was arrested after making threats against the district on an internet gaming Web site, according to The Ann Arbor News.

Police arrested the 18-year-old boy at his father's house after police determined the threats were coming from his computer. All schools in the district were put on alert and a bomb-sniffing dog was led through the alternative high school that the boy last attended a few weeks ago, The News reported.

Ann Arbor Police Chief Paul Bunten did not present the specifics of the threat but said they involved weapons. However, after completing an investigation, there was no evidence to support any intention to cause harm, according to The News.

"We take these situations very seriously and after conducting our investigation we found there's no credibility to what he was doing," Bunten told The News. "He was angry and just spouting off."

The case will be submitted to the city prosecutor for review. The boy was referred to the University of Michigan for a psychiatric evaluation, The News reported.

The Ann Arbor News, "Ex-Saline student in custody after online school threats," Oct. 13, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "The three P's of school safety: parents, prevention, and police," Nov. 1, 2001

MARSHALL, Mich. — The Michigan Education Special Services Association has decided it will not challenge a decision by Marshall Public Schools to cancel health insurance for custodians who no longer work for the district, according to the Battle Creek Enquirer.

MESSA is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association school employees union that outsources insurance underwriting and then resells policies to school districts.

MESSA originally told Marshall schools that a 30-day notice was necessary for any policy change, the Enquirer reported. Bonnie Brooks, a field representative for MESSA, then sent the district an e-mail stating the 30-day requirement was not valid because the district and MESSA did not have a current contract. Amy Jones, Marshall's finance director, told the Enquirer the district last signed an agreement with MESSA in 1989.

"If you are going to change coverage or remove people from a group, yes, the 30-day notice is required," Jones told the Enquirer. "The coverage has been canceled, but it's because they were laid off. It's been resolved, and it certainly was no error on behalf of the district."

Battle Creek Enquirer, "School decision cleared," Oct. 16, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Union concessions halt contracting plans," Aug. 28, 2007

MIDLAND, Mich. — Go to and post a comment for a chance to win one of three iPods.

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

Contact Managing Editor Sarah Grether at

To subscribe or unsubscribe, go to