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Thursday, October 22, 2015

STEVEN INGERSOLL REFERRED TO THE GRAND TRAVERSE ACADEMY AS THE "GOLDEN GOOSE": Former Superintendent Kaye Mentley's Shocking Affidavit!

ALTHOUGH OCTOBER 20 SENTENCING HEARING TESTIMONY REVEALED KAYE MENTLEY'S FINANCIAL STAKE IN GTAS, LLC, STEVEN INGERSOLL'S "CLEANING COMPANY", MENTLEY'S SELF-SERVING AFFIDAVIT IS FULL OF BULLSHIT EXCUSES!

WHO WAS DOING THE CLEANING...AND WHO WAS "CLEANING UP"?

AND ARE MARK NOSS AND STEVEN INGERSOLL REALLY THE CRIMINAL 'CHANG AND ENG' OF THE GRAND TRAVERSE ACADEMY?

In lieu of appearing in person Tuesday during Steven Ingersoll's sentencing hearing, Kaye Mentley cited a personal issue and instead provided the prosecution with a sworn affidavit.

The affidavit was accepted into evidence without objection by Ingersoll's defense. 

The document paints a portrait of a seemingly detached woman, one apparently now residing in Self-Serving Sworn Statement Land, who refuses to take any responsibility for the financial decimation of the Grand Traverse Academy that unraveled, spooling out under her watch. However, Mentley cynically takes advantage of every opportunity to throw her former business partner (yes, I said business partner) under the school bus, sticking the knife in while maintaining with wide-eyed guile that “I did not manage the finances of the school. That was done by Steven Ingersoll.” 

Miss Fortune's exclusive analysis includes statements made by Mentley shortly after Ingersoll's March 2014 indictment, staggering financial details about Mentley's business relationship with Ingersoll outside of the Grand Traverse Academy, and her entire affidavit.

After you finish reading this report, I'm betting you'll join me in calling "bullshit" on Mentley's effort to whitewash her tenure at the Grand Traverse Academy.
 
QUOTES DU JOUR

I did not manage the finances of the school. That was done by Steven Ingersoll.” 

Steven Ingersoll told me that he was aware that Roy Bradley and his employees were convicts.”

Steven Ingersoll also arranged for the GTA budget to include an item for “improvement of instruction”. At one point, I believe about $65,000 was budgeted for this item. Because I was in charge of hiring new teachers, I asked Steven Ingersoll if any of those funds were available to my use. Steven Ingersoll told me that the money had been paid to Mark Noss, the board president who was also an optometrist, because Mark Noss had provided eye exams to low-income students.”  

"One way that I saw Steven Ingersoll manipulated the financial records was by putting a curriculum development line in GTA's budget. Ingersoll made the curriculum development payments to SSM, in addition to the management fee. Steven Ingersoll told me he did this because he did not want to make the management fee too large. Because I was in charge of the curriculum, I know that the school's curriculum was not designed by SSM or Steven Ingersoll."

"Based on my familiarity with the people involved, I know that Mark Noss, the owner of the current management company for GTA, and Brad Habermehl, the current GTA board president, have been friends with Ingersoll for many years."

Sworn Affidavit of Kaye Mentley
October 19, 2015 

THE AFFIDAVIT, THE WHOLE AFFIDAVIT...AND NOTHING BUT THE AFFIDAVIT!

I am the former Superintendent of Grand Traverse Academy (“GTA”) from July 1, 1999 to June 26, 2014. My duties at GTA were to oversee the instructional program for all grade levels, which included hiring and managing teachers, recruiting and retaining students, and curriculum development. I did not manage the finances of the school. That was done by Steven Ingersoll. I, along with all of the teachers at GTA, was employed by Smart Schools Management (“SSM”).

As the GTA Superintendent, I regularly attended GTA board meetings. Steven Ingersoll would also regularly attend board meetings. The board appointed Steven Ingersoll as the Chief Administrative Officer (“CAO”), and he made financial reports to the board. Prior to a forensic audit in October 2013 by Dennis Gartland Neirgarth, I was unaware, and I believe the board was also unaware, that each year Steven Ingersoll paid himself a management fee from GTA funds on July 1. I assumed that the management fee, along with all of GTA’s other expenses, would be paid out in installments throughout the year.

Let's push the pause button for a couple corrections. 

Although DGN did perform a forensic examination of select transactions relating to Steven Ingersoll and the Grand Traverse Academy in September 2013, it was not a forensic audit. 

In addition, Mentley attempts to provide cover for the board, including Mark Noss, at the same time she's taking the position that she did not manage the finances at the Grand Traverse Academy.

Wonder why she's doing that?

Back to the affidavit:

On November 12, 2012, I met with Steven Ingersoll to discuss finances available to GTA. I contemporaneously wrote notes from that meeting. My notes reflect that Steven Ingersoll told me that “SSM owes GTA $2.5 million in unmet receivables.”

On January 29, 2013, I met with Steven Ingersoll in my office and we discussed the $2.5 receivable to GTA. I contemporaneously wrote notes from that meeting. My notes reflect that Steven Ingersoll said to me that “the money used to seed Bay City Academy will now come back to cure the problem.”

Nifty trick! Stolen taxpayer "seed money" will now be diverted from Bay City to repay Traverse City. Sounds like a plan to me!

GTA chronically had a problem with cash flow, especially in the fall. I was aware of this because I would receive calls from vendors regarding delinquent payments. Knowing that we had received revenue from state-aid anticipation notes shortly after the start of the fiscal year, I did not understand why SSM would have trouble paying bills for GTA in full.

This chronic problem became worse in 2011, 2012, and 2013. In hindsight, I think this was due to Steven Ingersoll advancing to himself all of SSM’s potential management fees at the beginning of the fiscal year, July 1.

You know what they say about hindsight — it's always 20/20!

When Steven Ingersoll began working on the Bay City Academy, I urged him to keep GTA separate from the Bay City Academy, as well as from other projects Steven Ingersoll was pursuing. In the context of these conversations, Steven Ingersoll referred to GTA as the “golden goose”.

The only money that GTA owed to Steven Ingersoll was SSM’s management fee. All of the rest of GTA’s money was to be spent on textbooks, personnel, and similar expenses associated with the operation of the schools.


My salary, and the salary of bookkeepers Margo Abbott and Heidi Weber, was initially paid out of SSM’s management fee, but was later paid as items in GTA’s budget, apart from the management fee.

Steven Ingersoll introduced Anthony Henning to the GTA board and recommended that the board hire Henning as the auditor. Steven Ingersoll did not present any other auditors to the board for consideration. The board hired Anthony Henning. Despite the fact that Anthony Henning was the auditor, Anthony Henning told me that he could never get invoices from Ingersoll for the services that Ingersoll claimed had been provided to GTA.

Steven Ingersoll had complete control over books of both GTA and SSM by virtue of his position as CAO for the GTA board and as the owner of SSM. Based on Steven Ingersoll’s statements to me and his actions, I believe that he used his position to manipulate financial statements of GTA to give a better appearance to the public, including the GTA board, Lake Superior State University (LSSU), and the Michigan Department of Education. 

However, the woman who now posits Ingersoll as a financial manipulator willingly looked the other way just a few short years ago while she was earning thousands of dollars in consulting fees at  Ingersoll's side.

The Great Valley Academy, a California charter school, with locations in Modesto and Manteca, used Ingersoll's Integrated Visual Learning process as its "curriculum model". 

During its fiscal year 2009 (from July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009), the Great Valley Academy paid $147,427.00 to Ingersoll and Mentley via an entity described in its IRS Form 990 report (above) as "Smart Schools of Michigan, Inc."

Ingersoll maintained ties to the Great Valley Academy for years, in 2012 loaning $300,000 to the school that retained him and former Superintendent Mentley as "development consultants".

One way that I saw that Steven Ingersoll manipulated the financial records was by putting a curriculum development line in GTA’s budget. Ingersoll made the curriculum development payments to SSM, in addition to the management fee. Steven Ingersoll told me that he did this because he did not want to make the management fee look too large. Because I was in charge of the curriculum, I know that the school’s curriculum was not designed by SSM or Steven Ingersoll. Only a small number of students, approximately 5%, received out-of-classroom instruction based on Steven Ingersoll’s Integrated Visual Learning method. Integrated Visual Learning is a teaching and learning technique rather than a curriculum.
 
Steven Ingersoll also arranged for the GTA budget to include an item for “improvement of instruction”. At one point, I believe about $65,000 was budgeted for this item. Because I was in charge of hiring new teachers, I asked Steven Ingersoll if any of those funds were available to my use. Steven Ingersoll told me that the money had been paid to Mark Noss, the board president who was also an optometrist, because Mark Noss had provided eye exams to low-income students.” Mark Noss later told me that he had never gotten any of the money.

Integrated Visual Learning is a teaching and learning technique rather than a curriculum — except when you can make six-figure sums consulting with other IVL-based charter schools.

Another method used by Steven Ingersoll to manipulate the numbers on books was to put in the budget a sum that SSM was supposed to pay in rent to GTA. Ingersoll usually rented two small offices, approximately 12 x 13 feet, within GTA’s building. One office was for Steven Ingersoll’s own use and the other for the bookkeepers he employed. When Steven Ingersoll became involved with establishing the Bay City Academy, he spent very little time in his office at GTA. Also, around that time, Margo Abbott, moved out of her office and began working from home.

Steven Ingersoll also violated the trust of the board members, LSSU, and the Michigan Department of Education, and used his position to control access to the financial information to GTA. He did not provide the GTA board members with source documents such as invoices or bank statement, but instead he gave the board members generalities and small-print Quickbook printouts. The GTA board had little opportunity to review the Quickbook reports because the board members would receive the reports from Steven Ingersoll during the meetings — not before the meetings — and then Steven Ingersoll would ask board members to approve budget amendments or other financial reports. All of the account statements for GTA went to SSM and were controlled by Steven Ingersoll.

The worm begins to turn.

I learned that GTA was owed $3.5 million when I was interviewed by federal agents on May 2, 2013. During the interview, the agents showed me a footnote to an audit report. Later that evening, I contacted Amy Wilson, a relative by marriage and corporate attorney, for advice. As a result of my conversation with Ms. Wilson, the next morning, I contacted GTA’s auditor Anthony Henning. I contemporaneously wrote notes from that conversation. Anthony Henning told me that SSM is the related party mentioned in the footnote of the audit report, and that SSM owed GTA $3.5 million. Henning also told me that the $3.5 million receivable was from “transfers made by Steven Ingersoll from GTA to SSM in excess of funds needed to operate the school.”

I then contacted Steven Ingersoll. Steven Ingersoll said that he would pledge to return the money to the school and to put the books into the black, but that he did not actually have the money.

Look closely at Mentley's legal eagle, corporate attorney Amy Wilson. Wilson's not a solo practitioner, tucked away in a little office. Amy Wilson is Corporate Secretary and Assistant General Counsel at The Dow Chemical Company in Midland.

Mentley has some impressive connections — could that be why she's so proficient in plausible deniability?

I also contacted the Thrun law firm on the morning of May 3, 2013 and spoke to Meg Hackett. The GTA board had retained two attorneys — Doug Bishop and the Thrun law firm. I contacted Thrun because I knew that they had expertise in educational law and educational finance. Shortly thereafter, Hackett met with the GTA board and a forensic audit was initiated. Steven Ingersoll did not dispute owing $3.5 million to GTA, and said that he would repay it without explaining how. When a promissory note was suggested, Hackett said that GTA could not accept a note because the school cannot make a loan.

When Ingersoll was involved in establishing BCA, he spent very little time at GTA. I did some research and learned that the same services that SSM was providing to GTA could be obtained by other management companies for a 2 to 3% fee, rather than the 12% fee claimed by Ingersoll. When I told Ingersoll this information and suggested he reduce his management fee to help GTA financially, Steven Ingersoll responded that he could not live on 2 to 3%.

At one point, Ingersoll told me that “SSM put a lot of money into BCA and now BCA needs to pay SSM so SSM can pay GTA”. He also told me that it was his responsibility to move money between SSM and GTA to keep both “healthy”.

Steven Ingersoll told me that he was aware that Roy Bradley and his employees were convicts.

So, did you ask Ingersoll to explain why he handed a no-bid $2.0+ million dollar school renovation construction contract to a "convict"?

Bruce Harger wrote reports for LSSU that contained glowing descriptions of the use of Integrated Visual Learning in the classroom at GTA. I know from my intimate involvement with instruction at GTA then that Integrated Visual Learning was not in use in the classrooms at GTA at the times covered in Harger’s reports. This leads me to conclude that Harger based his reports on information provided to him by Ingersoll. Harger is a close friend of Ingersoll’s and a strong supporter of Ingersoll.
 
Ingersoll is a very smart man who has the ability to inspire confidence and loyalty, and is willing to use that ability to serve his objectives. CPA Henning acknowledged to me that he “gave in to Ingersoll’s strong personality too much.” Partly because of Ingersoll, and partly because of my commitment to GTA, I even agreed to pledge my home as collateral and personally guarantee payment for a loan to GTA during the early years of the school However, when Ingersoll asked me to do so a second time when the school should have been doing well financially, I declined to do so because I did not understand why the school could not function on its own with its per pupil funds from the state.

Based on my familiarity with the people involved, I know that Mark Noss, the owner of the current management company for GTA, and Brad Habermehl, the current GTA board president, have been friends with Ingersoll for many years.

So, the all-powerful wamma jamma of Steven Ingersoll totally screwed with Mentley's moral compass. But that's not how she described in back in 2014.

Kaye Mentley's “interview” — a lengthy question-and-answer document posted for a short time on the Grand Traverse Academy's website, was clearly designed to calm the rabble. 
 
Did it work?

Although Miss Fortune thinks "crisis communications" should be practiced only by professionals, you be the judge!

As you read this Q &A, keep in mind that Mentley had already met with federal investigators nearly a year before Ingersoll was indicted and clearly knew her April 2014 statement was at the very least misleading and at worst a pack of lies.


INTRODUCTION:

Recently Dr. Steven Ingersoll, a Bay City, Michigan optometrist, and one of the founders of Grand Traverse Academy, was federally indicted, along with family members, alleging they conspired to commit bank fraud and tax evasion.

Although these charges do not involve Grand Traverse Academy (GTA), there has been speculation about our relationship with Dr. Ingersoll. Until we changed companies in March of 2014, his Smart Schools Management company provided services to GTA.  This affiliation began with our founding in 2000.

Q:  There has been speculation that Dr. Ingersoll’s legal issues extend to GTA.  Is there any truth to that?

A:  Ever since the start of GTA we have complied with financial transparency requirements, the same as public schools.  To our knowledge, Dr. Ingersoll’s legal issues are personal.

Q:  In addition to posting current GTA financials on the website for public transparency, what other oversight is in place?

A:  We have always regularly reported to Lake Superior State University, our chartering agency; the Traverse Bay Intermediate School District; and the Michigan State Department of Education.

Q:  Is there any credibility to rumors that Dr. Ingersoll appropriated money from GTA illegally?

A:  We are not aware of any money illegally taken from the Academy, nor has our board ever approved a loan to Dr. Ingersoll or Smart Schools. Previous to the past year, the management fee was made as a pre-payment at the beginning of a new school year.  This practice was stopped during the past year when the school's new accountants indicated that it was inappropriate. The previous school accountant had continued this procedure on an annual basis. Because the budget was adjusted due to finances and the need to reduce the management fee in several years, the amounts paid in excess of the amended budget were then owed to GTA by Smart Schools. In view of the circumstances as of the beginning of GTA's last fiscal year, our board demanded repayment from Smart Schools for the balance due. GTA continues to pursue this repayment. No monies were ever advanced to Dr. Ingersoll personally. All management fees went to Smart Schools.

Q:  Full Spectrum Management is the educational services provider that is providing management of GTA since March 2014.  What is their background?
A:  Full Spectrum Management is owned by Dr. Mark Noss, a Traverse City optometrist who also owns Full Spectrum Eyecare.

Q:  What prompted the board's decision to retain Full Spectrum?

A:  Dr. Noss was a long time trustee of GTA.  Most recently he was board president, a position he resigned when starting the charter school management company.  When our contract with Smart Schools was terminated, we did not have the luxury of time to research a new company.  He was familiar with our school, had been involved with our mission from the beginning, and was able to provide a smooth transition to a new management company.



2 comments:

  1. Then from this statement, it seems IVL was not the curriculum GTA uses?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, according to Kaye Mentley, IVL was only a minor part of the GTA's curriculum.

      Delete