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Friday, September 24, 2021

"IN THE MATTER OF BAY CITY ACADEMY CERTIFICATION PENALTY": Bay City Academy's 2020 State Aid Penalty

The Michigan Department of Education's investigation into the certification status of Brian Lynch, professed Superintendent of the Bay City Academy, wasn't the first deep dive into the Bay City charter school.

Later today, the entire report, exclusively from "Glistening, Quivering Underbelly".


Friday, September 17, 2021

BACK TO SCHOOL: Michigan Department of Education's Certification Compliance Investigation of Bay City Academy's "Superintendent" Brian Lynch

The Michigan Department of Education's (MDE) investigation into the certification status of Brian Lynch, who became Superintendent of the Bay City Academy at the beginning of the 2016/2017 school year without the School Administrator Certification required by the state, was initiated after my August 9, 2021 email inquiry to the MDE seeking clarification.

My email sought clarification, stating that is was my understanding "that if a School Administrator does hold a valid certificate, and is employed more that six months without being enrolled in an approved program leading to the certification, the school (and the administrator) are not in compliance with Michigan law."

My email noted that although Lynch had formally acted as the Bay City Academy's Superintendent "continuously since the 2016/2017 school year" his Michigan Online Educator Certification record revealed only lapsed teaching certification.

The initial MDE response to my inquiry offered a status update on Brian Lynch, while clarifying the MDE School Administrator certification requirements:

"It appears that Bay City Academy no longer employed Mr. Lynch as of 4/30/2015.  Additionally, the requirements by the Michigan Department of Education require that School Administrators to hold valid certification did not begin until September of 2018. Prior to that, school administrators were allowed to be "grandfathered" into their positions without needing to hold a certification. Mr. Lynch's current position as the head of the Academy's management company does not have a certification requirement."

The next day, August 10, 2021, I sent a response to the MDE email. 

Here is an excerpt:

"Regarding this statement from your response ("Mr. Lynch's current position as the head of Academy's management company does not have a certification requirement."), while Brian Lynch is indeed head of the Bay City Academy's management company (Mitten Educational Management) since 2015, he has also been paid separate compensation as the BCA's Superintendent since the 2016/2017 school year."

I included these 2016-2019 Lynch/Bay City Academy Superintendent compensation package reports to my response:


 



According to documents obtained from the MDE through a Freedom of Information Act request, my email exchange prompted swift action, opening an investigation into Lynch with this terse statement from an August 10, 20121 email from an MDE official to a department colleague:

"Please respond with:

We do not have a record of an administrator certificate for Brian Lynch. You are correct that the law and administrative rule requires superintendents to hold a valid certificate or permit.

And then open an investigation for this person."

The colleague responded to the supervisor, in part, with this comment:

"But he isn't their Superintendent, and in the attachments that Anita provided, it says "Mr. Lynch does not receive a salary from Bay City Academy. He is directly paid by Mitten Educational Management LLC."

The supervisor's response offered this statement about Michigan public school academy (PSA) employees:

"All PSA employees are paid by the mgmt. company. Just because he's paying himself from his own management company doesn't mean he isn't paid to be supt."

The colleague responded, in an email shown below. 

(I have removed the names of the MDE officials, and their respective email addresses, to maintain confidentiality during the Lynch investigation.)

("REP" refers to the MDE's Registry of Educational Personnel, the comprehensive database used to produce school personnel reports for the U. S. Department of Education and the state of Michigan.)

But the MDE Administrator Certification investigation may not be the only one Brian Lynch faces.

According to the Bay City Academy's current Lake Superior State University charter contract (aka "Contract To Charter A Public School Academy And Related Documents"), Lynch's ongoing double-dipping money grabbing antics are expressly prohibited, and could result in revocation of the Academy's charter contract.


Ah, I smell another investigation.

And I bet the Michigan Treasury department would love to know how Mr. Double-Dipper scooped a pile of cash he was contractually barred from snatching during the Bay City Academy's (and I quote the MDE's June 2021 "Deficit District Report") six-year span of "rapidly deteriorating financial circumstances".

I guess my work here is not done!
 

More on this next week.


Thursday, September 16, 2021

STATE OF MICHIGAN LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION INTO BAY CITY ACADEMY: Charter School Subject Of Michigan Department of Education “Certification Status” Inquiry Regarding Superintendent Brian Lynch; State Can Reduce School Aid Payments To Recoup Amount Paid To Lynch

BREAKING NEWS! "Glistening, Quivering Underbelly" has learned that the Michigan Department of Education opened an investigation in August 2021 into the certification status of Brian Lynch, who became Superintendent of the Bay City Academy at the beginning of the 2016/2017 school year without the School Administrator Certification required by the state.

Michigan law requires all public school administrators (charter schools are considered "public schools" under the law) who oversee business operations or instructions to be certified by the state within three years of taking the position. 

If administrators do not take the necessary classes and obtain certification from the state within the three-year span, the district or school cannot continue to employ them, under Michigan law.

A former teacher, Lynch was hired by the Bay City Academy at the beginning of the 2013/2014 school year as an "Education Consultant" by Academy founder, Steven J. Ingersoll. Lynch formerly taught at the Grand Traverse Academy, managed at the time by Ingersoll.

Roughly one month before Ingersoll's April 11, 2014 federal tax evasion indictment was unsealed, the Academy's Board of Education voted during its March 23, 2014 meeting to remove Ingersoll, and appointed Lynch as the charter school's new Superintendent and President of Instructional Services.

A federal jury found Ingersoll guilty of three of the six criminal counts named in the indictment (two counts of attempting to evade or defeat tax and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States) on March 10, 2015.

Six weeks after Ingersoll's conviction, the Bay City Academy announced in an April 29, 2015 news release that Mitten Educational Management, LLC, incorporated on April 10, 2015 by Lynch and metro Detroit accountant Michael Randel, was hired as the Academy's new management company.

After an abortive attempt to shoehorn former North Central Academy Principal, Patrick Cleland, into the job, Kurt Grangood (another North Central Academy staffer) served as the Bay City Academy's Superintendent for one school year (2015/2016), earning a compensation package of $60,420. 

Grangood's Michigan School Administrator certificate was issued on October 6, 2014 and has subsequently been renewed.

Lynch has served as the Bay City charter school's "Superintendent" beginning with the 2016/2017 through the current school year.

While Lynch and his Mitten Educational Management business partner contractually earn an annual management fee equivalent to 9 percent of the Bay City Academy's revenues (management fees paid during the year ending June 30, 2020, the last year reported,were $323,389), Lynch's annual compensation as Superintendent was significantly higher than Grangood's $60,420 package.

In 2016/2017, Lynch was paid a $98,986 salary and benefits package; $102,440 in 2017/2018; $82,050 in 2018/2019; and a nearly identical amount ($82,550) in 2019/2020.

However, beginning with the 2020/2021 year, Lynch's Superintendent compensation disclosure went from this format:

 


 to this one:

 


You'll note the disclaimer at the bottom: "Mr. Lynch does not receive a salary from Bay City Academy. He is paid directly by Mitten Educational Management LLC. Mr. Lynch is currently not nor has he ever been compensated by Bay City Academy for work performed post May 1, 2015 when he founded Mitten Educational Management."

As the Brits say, too clever by half.

No one employed at the Bay City Academy receives a salary from Bay City Academy; everyone who works at the school is an employee of the management company and is leased to the school, and paid, by Mitten.

Including Brian Lynch.

All prior Superintendent salary/benefits disclosures, revealing the often staggering amount paid to Lynch, have been scrubbed from the Bay City Academy's website, and replaced with the "Mr. Lynch doesn't receive a salary" deceptive bullshit.

Under Michigan law, failing to obtain certification during the required time frame has significant consequences. The consequences can be stiff, and the state can reduce school aid payments to recoup the amount paid to "administrators" like Lynch during the time they worked without certification.

Also, any school official who knowingly employs a non-certified administrator is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $1,500 for each instance.

The Bay City Academy, under supervision by the Michigan Treasury department since 2018 and entering its sixth year in financial deficit, could take a significant financial hit due to "Double-Dipper" Lynch's antics.

Stay tuned; tomorrow I'll have more exclusive details gleaned from my latest Freedom of Information Act request.

 




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