Turns out, Mike Flanagan dumped a stinking pile of gobshite on the citizens of Michigan during the waning days of his tenure as the state's Superintendent of Public Education.
Was it “short timer syndrome” that prevented Flanagan in mid-2014 from exercising his full authority regarding the burgeoning financial scandal at the Grand Traverse Academy, or political pressure from Governor Snyder's office?
It's likely we'll never know.
However, according to an article scheduled for publication in a forthcoming edition of the Indiana Law Journal, “Are Charter Schools the Second Coming of Enron?”, Flanagan's claim that the state department of education “had no statutory authority to recommend corrective actions” was incorrect.
In this excerpt from the paper, its authors (including Preston Green III, John and Carla Klein Professor of Urban Education and Professor of Educational Leadership and Law at the University of Connecticut; Bruce D. Baker, Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University and Joseph Oluwole, Associate Professor, Counseling and Educational Leadership Montclair State University) reveal Flanagan did have the legal authority to act:
“The GTA example shows how authorizers and other governmental entities can fail to work together to detect unlawful activity. After the authorizer [NOTE: Lake Superior State University] informed the Michigan Department of Education about the improper prepayments, Michael Flanagan, who was then the state superintendent of public instruction, responded in a letter agreeing that these payments might have placed the charter school at financial risk.
Nevertheless, Flanagan opined that the department had “no statutory authority to recommend any corrective actions.”
Flanagan also advised the governing board to take a series of steps, including conducting “at its own expense, . . . a forensic audit to determine what, if any, school assets have been misused or misspent.”
As it turns out, however, Flanagan’s claim that the state department of education “had no statutory authority to recommend corrective actions” was incorrect.
Section 380.1281 of the state’s education code specifically empowers the state board of education to “examine and audit the official records and accounts” of charter schools, and “propel proper accounting by legal action instituted by direction of the attorney general.”
Another provision of the education code transfers the statutory rulemaking and administrative powers and duties of the state board to the superintendent of public instruction for certain provisions, including § 380.1281, the provision pertinent to this case.”
Why am I not surprised?