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Friday, November 27, 2015

LIPSTICK ON A PIG? Bay City Academy's Red Ink Threatens To Swamp Steven Ingersoll's Charter School; Is Management Company 'Mitten Educational Management' Harboring A (Convicted) Stalker?

To put “lipstick on a pig” is a rhetorical expression, used to convey the message that making superficial or cosmetic changes is a futile attempt to disguise the true nature of something.

Like a row through a sewer in a glass-bottomed boat, it's crystal clear that the road apples bobbing below are winking back at you in derision — that is, if you believe that contemptuous mockery and ridicule can come from something that sticks to your hiking boots.

In the second half of Miss Fortune's examination of the Bay City Academy's precarious financial situation, I'll focus on the flypaper-like relationship with its soon-to-be incarcerated landlord, Steven Ingersoll, and his exorbitant rents. (You can catch up on the first installment at this link.)

And I'll ask a serious question — one that literally no other media source is asking — why is convicted stalker Patrick Cleland still on the Bay City Academy payroll...and what secrets could he spill?

Finally, will the budget figures in the Bay City Academy's expected deficit elimination plan resemble cafeteria vegetables — cooked beyond recognition? 

First, let's look at how the Bay City Academy arrived in Deficit Town: via the Steven Ingersoll Express.

Regular readers of this blog will recognize same unethical habits — prepaid management fees and bogus “cash refunds” that went unpaid, sitting for years on the books as “receivables” from the management company — Steven Ingersoll employed during his multi-million dollar plunder scheme at the Grand Traverse Academy. 

And it appears that the Bay City charter school's board members are as willfully impotent and sympathetic as those in Traverse City.

But let's stop talking in code. 

The Bay City Academy's $1.3 million dollar deficit is not a “budget shortfall” or a “negative amount”, it's a loss. As of June 30, 2015, the Academy's current liabilities exceeded its current assets by $1,374,477 (and the General Fund had a deficit fund balance of $1,374,477). 

You'll note when you read the Bay City school's 2015 financial report (as of today, still not available on its website), auditor Weinlander Fitzhugh expressed doubt about the financial viability of the school: “As discussed in Note 13 to the financial statements, the Academy has incurred a significant operating deficit in 2015 resulting in a cash flow shortage. These conditions raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern.” 

Effectively restating financials from its first three fiscal years, and without Steven Ingersoll's trademark money sleight-of-hand, the Bay City Academy situation reminds me of Warren Buffett's famous comment: you only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.

And the tide's done gone out.

While it's true that the “debt is a hangover of what has happened here”, it happened with the apparent approval of the Bay City Academy's Board of Directors.

Headed by longtime Ingersoll crony (why does this sound so familiar?) Craig Johnston, the board voted to approve every move Ingersoll made, from budgets to the annual financial report. 

Did anyone ask why the so-called rebates were never repaid? 


And was there no one who knew that Ingersoll was not allowed to prepay his management fee in one lump sum?

Yes, but they likely just looked the other way.

The “irregular expenditures” may have stopped  — but the money will never be recovered.

Make no mistake in assuming that Steven Ingersoll is “no longer part of the school in any way”. With a board headed by the same crony who watched this Titanic sink (Craig Johnston) and the son-in-law (Brian Lynch) of another crony (Mark Noss) heading a hastily-formed management company, the fortunes of Ingersoll and the Bay City Academy are inextricably bound.

The Bay City Times article throws unwarranted shade at the Essexville-Hampton Public Schools, erroneously claiming that district dug itself “out of a $600,000 hole through wage and benefit cuts.”


The Essexville-Hampton district finished the 2013-14 school year in deficit of approximately $90,000. That deficit was projected to grow to nearly $600,000 if nothing was changed during the next year.

Unlike the Bay City Academy, which reacted only after the Michigan Department of Education interceded and demanded that the stumbling charter school file a formal deficit elimination plan, Essexville-Hampton filed a timely plan that included concessions made by every single employee in the entire district.

Would you like to know how I know those facts?

All the pertinent information — including explicit financials — remains publicly available on the district’s website.

How’s that for transparency?

Compare that to the Bay City Academy, which still has not made its 2015 financial report publicly available on its site, and maintains “the district is not in deficit, therefore, there no deficit elimination plan is in effect.”

However, strangely enough, I do agree with Board President (and Ingersoll lackey) Craig Johnston’s call for a name change: “Changing the name tells the public what we already know," Johnston said in the November 20, 2015 Bay City Times article. "We are light years ... different than what this school used to be, but the public doesn't know that. We still have ties to the old guard.”

If it worked for Hitler, it should work for the Bay City Academy.

What, you didn’t know about Hitler’s dream car? Hitler proposed to build a cheap car that almost anyone could afford.

But the name given the vehicle by a subsidiary of the Deutsche Arbeitsfront (German Labor Front), “Kraft durch Freude” (Strength through Joy) didn’t roll off the tongue as easily as your average Panzer formation rolled into Poland.

And so the car we now know as the Volkswagen was renamed. 

So what about Pat Cleland? 

Sentenced on Tuesday to two years' supervised probation, Cleland stalked his former live-in girlfriend, who sought and received a personal protection order in Leelanau County.

And reports indicate Cleland is still employed at the Bay City Academy.

Wonder if he filed his Conviction Disclosure Form with the Michigan Department of Education?


I'm not surprised.


  1. When Ingersoll's sentenced on December 8 and his case is tied with a big red bow.. one can only wonder how long before continued justice will be served and Mark Noss & associates will be walking the path with GTA?? I believe I read that Gretchen Ingersoll did bookkeeping for both BCA & GTA at some point.. it sure poses the question in one's mind that the future could unfold both Acedemy's Financial reports could be like looking in a mirror.. such a grave injustice to our children, their futures, and our educational system. When I was in school, if more than one person got caught doing a "crime", they all had to serve their time.. the trail of justice will find its way to GTA, it's just a matter of time.

  2. I completely agree. It is completely sickening that students have to get caught up in this garbage.

    I read in another comment that these kids don't even have text books. Let's manage a school and not provide the necessary materials/equipment for student success.

    I'll bet the staff is paid next to nothing as well. Wonder where all that money's going?....oh yeah, not to school supplies.

    To put icing on the cake...lets keep a mentally disturbed individual around children. Awesome job BCA.

    1. As all employees work for the 'management company', it's nearly impossible to determine teacher salaries. However, there are two BCA jobs posted on Indeed.com: IT Director and a 5/6 Grade Elementary teaching position. You can check them out, but here's the job description for the IT position:

      "General Purpose of Job: This position oversees all information technology equipment, including acquisition, inventory, configuration, maintenance, and disposal. Ensures all systems are operational and configured as necessary. Work with campus/building leaders to ensure that appropriate hardware and software systems are available for staff and classroom needs. Provides recommendations and costs analysis for system upgrades and changes."

      Sounds great, until you read what comes later: "Flexible schedule as we are seeking an individual to work between consistenly 1, 2, or 3 days each week with your choice of which days you want to work."

      It could be translated as "we don't want to hire a full-time employee, just want to have a part-timer doing the work of a full-timer in no more than 3 days a week."

      Likely no benefits, either.

      However, the teaching job is a full-time position:

      5/6 Elementary Teaching Position
      Bay City Academy - Bay City, MI
      Multi-age fifth and sixth grade classroom teacher.
      Job Type: Full-time
      Required experience:
      Classroom Teacher: 1 year

      Required license or certification:
      MDE Certified

      Required education:

      Miss Fortune hears that beginning teachers make in the mid-20's as a starting salary.

  3. You hit the nail on the head about the IT director...full time work for part time pay. Between that person leaving and the last of the Bradley clan officially leaving today, everyone at that school does multiple jobs.

    Starting salary depends on where you live, cost of living, and what kind of school you work in (public usually pays more than private and charter). A former employee told me that starting salary is 30k as a base, with a 1K raise each year to the base salary. This is significantly less than what BCPS and even other charters pay. Add in deductions for insurance and 401k (which is done through Edward Jones rep. Luke Noss) and exorbitant out of pocket costs to pay for basic curriculum materials and supplies (for which there is no budget for), and teachers are easily putting 2k back into the school. The 5/6 teacher that quit after 1 week really dodged a bullet.

    1. So the Bay City Academy will officially be a "Bradley Free Zone" as of today. Interesting. Will members of the clan, and significant others, be hanging around "unofficially"?

  4. I also read that there was two 5-6 positions open at one point. Teachers quitting left and right are a direct result of piss poor working environments.

    Did anyone hear anything about a student being physically restrained at BCA by a bus driver? Funny how that is somehow swept under the rug. That happened at Traverse city and it was all over the news.

  5. Both Kristy (Bradley) Wyson and her husband Shawn are still listed in the Bay City Academy's staff directory. It appears they are both still working for Brian Lynch's Mitten Educational Management -- like Patrick Cleland.

  6. This is all so sad. It's sad for the kids who go to school to learn in a high quality learning environment.

    After reading this article, it is absolutely creepy that these schools would keep ANY of these individuals employed. Somethings not right.

    What is the information on this assault on a student? As the individual commented above, why in the hell is this not being investigated? No adult should ever touch a kid in that manner. Where did this assault take place?

    I believe charter schools like this will be the ultimate demise of the charter movement if they are allowed to function like this.

    1. Miss Fortune is investigating the anonymous allegation concerning a BCA bus driver physically restraining a student, but without more details (timing, bus driver's name, etc.) it's nearly impossible to confirm. If it is true, it's troubling and should be investigated -- by the police. I would urge anyone with details to contact the Bay City Police Department.

  7. I heard that it occurred at the northern school location. I can't think of the name.

    Cleland is definitely still employed.