Muskegon Heights Public School Academy Dress Code, Disciplinary Plans Solidified

Andrew Trzaska | July 30, 2012

Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System high school students will have a dress code and all other grades a uniform starting with the coming school year.

This comes from the charter system board’s approval of a plan recommended by Mosaica Education at Monday’s board meeting.

Alena Zachery-Ross, Mosaica Education’s regional vice president who will oversee the Heights Public School Academy System, presented findings of a parent survey disseminated over the past few weeks via SurveyMonkey and Facebook.

From 138 respondents, 54% supported uniforms for middle and elementary schools, while 32% supported a uniform for high schools. Numbers flipped on suggestion of a dress code; 40% supported a dress code for elementary in lieu of uniforms, while 58% supported it for the high school.  Only 6% and 10% supported no code or uniforms at all for lower grades and the high school, respectively.

Numbers were not available as to how many respondents were parents, how many were students, and how many were neither of those.

Muskegon Heights Public Schools board president Trinnell Scott spoke at Monday’s meeting on this issue. She shared her increased support for the charter school since voting against asking for an emergency financial manager last year, but expressed reluctance to accept the survey group’s opinions.  Scott cited a survey distributed about a year ago by the public school board of education regarding uniforms, which came out strongly against uniforms or a dress code.

Mosaica recommended and the academy board voted to implement uniforms in K-8 and a dress code in the high school. With a change from white shirts to blue shirts suggested by board member Carmella Ealom, the plan received a unanimous vote.

Elementary students will need to wear blue shirts and black or khaki bottoms (skirts, pants, etc.), with the option of black sweaters or sweatshirts over.  No wheel shoes, sleeveless shirts or “extreme” hair colors would be allowed as well as other specific details that will be outlined in the handbook..

High school students will need to wear footwear at all times, keep hair well-groomed and not extreme, plus refrain from wearing gang-related or possibly offensive, sexual, vulgar or violent words or imagery. Lounge pants, slippers, accessories that can cause injury will not be allowed, nor will extreme makeup like face painting, in most cases.

Zachery indicated that more decisions could be made regarding situations of hardship. She also stated that arrangements with local stores or vendors including Family Dollar are currently underway.

Board member Carmella Ealom emphasized the need for both students and parents to review the Mosaica handbook that would outline this policy for the sake of accountability: “I’d like to see parents and students who come into school sign something saying they are going to abide by this policy.”


Disciplinary system takes shape

Mosaica representatives also spoke on the system’s new disciplinary system at Monday’s meeting. Parts of their own system will be blended with the public school district’s code of conduct, while also accounting for Michigan law.

The board did not vote on the disciplinary plan at Monday’s meeting but did participate in a public discussion with Mosaica about the proposed code of conduct.

A major part of their “progressive discipline model” is a three-level classification of student altercations.

Cheating, violating dress code, defying instructors and other “classroom” level actions will be handled in a “classroom” level of discipline and receive specific outcomes.

Disruption of educational proceedings, false alarms, unauthorized use of or trespassing on school property, obscenity and other “school-wide” offenses will be handled on another level and will receive different attention.

Drugs, alcohol, substance abuse, arson, extortion, explosives, and other prosecutable offenses will be treated as a legal offense, and in many cases must be reported to authorities.

The progressive discipline model, as explained by Mosaica representatives, will generally begin with a parent-student conference, followed immediately by a face-to-face parent conference. After these initial steps, conferences can escalate to include the teacher, student, parent and administrator. Contacts, communication and attendance will be documented for future reference and system-wide data.

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst