LANSING — State Representatives Marcia Hovey-Wright (D-Muskegon) and Collene Lamonte (D-Montague) today condemned the use of unlicensed teachers in the Muskegon Heights School District. The financially struggling school district was taken over by an emergency manager appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder last year, and the emergency manager contracted with a for-profit charter school company to run the district’s schools.

“By Michigan law, every teacher in the state — whether at a public, private or charter school — must be certified by the state of Michigan before being hired,” Hovey-Wright said. “It is the law because we must ensure that our kids are being taught by qualified people who have the skills, knowledge of childhood development and an understanding of the ethics and legal obligations of their job. Allowing uncertified teachers to lead classrooms is illegal, but just as importantly, it’s also irresponsible of Mosaica to compromise the quality of our kids’ education.”

According to a recent investigation, the Muskegon Heights district had at least eight uncertified teachers as of January, comprising more than 10 percent of the district’s teaching staff. Mosaica Education, the for-profit company managing the district, could face fines of more than $100,000 if an ongoing Michigan Department of Education investigation finds the company acted illegally and could lose its contract with the state. The district has had trouble retaining teachers since being transformed into a charter school district, and news reports have said that a quarter of the district’s teachers quit in the first three months of the school year.

“What’s going on in Muskegon Heights proves the dangers that come with recklessly expanding the state’s authority over local schools,” Lamonte said. “The state contracted with a company that was looking to make a quick buck, but it’s our children who are really paying the price. As a certified teacher myself, I know all the hard work, dedication and training it takes to be a qualified educator. We should never settle for less when it comes to our kids.”