Tuesday, September 1, 2015

PASSING THE BUCK(S)? Michigan Department of Education Responds...Sort Of

If you were holding your breath, waiting to hear what steps the Michigan Department of Education might take to investigate the Grand Traverse Academy Board's recent decision not to pursue any legal action to recover the estimated $1.67 million dollars owed to the Traverse City charter school by its former management company, convicted felon Steven Ingersoll’s Smart Schools Management, Inc., you can exhale.

It appears the MDE will likely do nothing.

On August 9, three days after receiving an email from Grand Traverse Academy attorney Kerry Morgan (informing me that “litigation is legally precluded because the SSM and GTA contract contains a mandatory arbitration clause. Thus, a lawsuit is not a legal option.”), I sent an email to Mark Eitrem, Supervisor of the MDE's Charter School office.

I asked Eitrem for a comment on the Board's decision...and waited.

Although I realize now I should have been much more direct, Eitrem's answer (non-answer, really) still stunned me.

He punted the question to the MDE's mouthpiece, Martin Ackley.

Eitrem's one-line email, shown at left, was copied both to Ackley and Eitrem's second-in-command, Tammy Hatfield.

Seven minutes after Eitrem forwarded my email, which had been languishing in his inbox for over three weeks, Ackley responded.

Or did he really?
Although proponents of charter schools (for example, the private education service providers) claim that charter schools in Michigan are highly regulated and have a triple layer of oversight, the evidence shows otherwise. 

Ackley couldn't run from my question fast enough, stating in his email that the Grand Traverse Academy Board's decision to effectively surrender millions of taxpayer dollars to Steven Ingersoll was a "local school district contractual and legal issue" and the Michigan Department of Education opted "respectfully" to "decline comment".

Your girl Miss Fortune has already circled back around, pointedly asking the slugs in Lansing this question: how can the Grand Traverse Academy Board of Directors make what appears to be a unilateral decision not to pursue recovery of an estimated $1.67 million dollars using an arbitration clause and unlikely recovery as their excuses?

And although the Board knew at least two years ago that Ingersoll was under federal investigation, it undertook no legal action and instead kept Steven Ingersoll and his management company on the public payroll for another year — until days before he was federally indicted on multiple fraud counts.

So what exactly does the Michigan Department of Education do anyway, other than watch money sail out of Lansing like the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria?  

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

"SON OF A...!" LAKE SUPERIOR STATE UNIVERSITY NAMES NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR TO HEAD CHARTER SCHOOL OFFICE...& HIS LAST NAME IS OSHELSKI, TOO! Son Of Former Director, Most Recently A Sault Ste. Marie 4th Grade Teacher, Named To Head Office That Authorizes (Among Other Public School Academies) Bay City Academy, Grand Traverse Academy

Meet the new boss, (almost the) same as the old boss!

What's next...a Habermehl progeny joining Brian Lynch's Mitten Educational Management?

Thanks to a tip from a reader of this blog, Miss Fortune has learned that Chris Oshelski, a former 4th grade charter school teacher apparently lacking the upper level management experience required in the job's position description, has nonetheless been named Executive Director of Lake Superior State University's Charter School office.

Replacing his father, Nick, who announced his retirement in March, Chris Oshelski was most recently a 4th grade teacher at Joseph K. Lumsden Bahweting Anishnabe PSA in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. 

The charter school originally opened in 1994 as a tribal school sponsored by the Sault Ste. Marie band of Chippewa Indians. In 1995, the school was chartered by Northern Michigan University to become a public school academy and is renamed Bahweting Anishnabe Public School Academy. In 1998, the Bahweting Anishnabe PSA was renamed Joseph K. Lumsden Bahweting Anishnabe PSA in honor of the late Chippewa tribal leader. 

The position description listed the following “Minimum Qualifications”:

A master’s degree and at least five years of experience in traditional or charter school K-12 administration – including experience in supervision of faculty and staff members, budget management, curriculum development, and assessment. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are required. The successful candidate will need to occasionally work long days, evenings and weekends, as well as travel to authorized and proposed PSA sites year-round by automobile. 

Must be tough to find good help these days!