It sure looks the Grand Traverse Academy's management firm, Full Spectrum Management, LLC, may have pulled one over on the taxpayers of Michigan.
Smiling like chimps run amuck in a Meijer produce department, Full Spectrum's Mark Noss, along with the Academy Board, have successfully convinced you there's a plan to sue Noss' longtime business partner, Steven Ingersoll...after the feds get done with him!
Sure, there's a plan...like there's a hairline on a chimp.
The scandalous situation is almost deceptively simple: the Grand Traverse Academy’s official 2013 fiscal audit revealed Steve Ingersoll’s Smart Schools Management, Inc. agreed to repay the Academy the $2.38 million dollars Smart Schools overpaid itself during that year.
The plan called for Smart Schools to reduce cash transfers for its management fees through June 30, 2016.
Shortly before his indictment, Steven Ingersoll’s firm was replaced by Mark Noss and Full Spectrum Management, LLC on March 19, 2014.
Smart Schools still owes the Grand Traverse Academy $1.67 million dollars (by its own accounting), but the Board recently announced it had decided to wait until after Ingersoll’s federal fraud trial is completed to sue Smart Schools and attempt to recover the money.
Why is the Board waiting, and where isn’t there more media interest in the missing money?
IS THERE A COVER-UP?
Using official documents obtained by a Freedom of Information Act Request, I have revealed that Mark Noss signed a contract to manage the Grand Traverse Academy while a member of the Academy's Board.
While that significant conflict of interest has gone unreported by local and state media, on September 23 I wrote a letter to Michael Flanagan, Michigan's Superintendent of Public Instruction, asking that he launch an investigation into the apparent misappropriation of taxpayer money by Smart Schools Management, along with an official review of the Mark Noss/Full Spectrum management contract conflict of interest.
In addition, I have also reported the Academy's activities to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
SO, IS THERE A COVER-UP?
While the Academy's attorney, Kerry Morgan, and its Board try the old "on-the-other-hand, on-the-other-other-hand" distraction (hoping to convince you that a written agreement exists backing up the claim that Smart Schools and the Academy agreed that "SSM would contribute 5 million to GTA"), it's only pretzel logic.
The real truth is a much shorter distance...and just a straight line.
In a potential violation of Michigan's conflict-of-interest laws, Noss (the head of Full Spectrum Management) and sitting Grand Traverse Academy board member called it in—attending the school's April 11 meeting via phone.
One of his last duties was adding an agenda item: approving an amendment to his Full Spectrum Management contract. The official meeting minutes indicated Noss added "8a", but those minutes neglected to include a description or any information explaining the amendment.
As a result of a Freedom of Information Act request submitted to Lake Superior State University, I have obtained "Item 8a", the list of ten contract amendments Mark Noss added to the Grand Traverse Academy's April 11 Board meeting agenda.
Who's smiling now?