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Monday, May 22, 2017

“REIMBURSABLE BY CUSTOMER”: GTA In The Red; Overambitious Expansion Plans On Hold; Noss On The Skids?

On May 4, 2012, current GTA Board President Lesley Werth was one of three board members who voted to approve a “Reimbursement Resolution” that was crafted to commit the Board to reimbursing its then manager, Steven Ingersoll, 12 percent of the school's revenue— “from its inception and going forward”. 

Werth, along with fellow board members Teri Stockwell and Larry DeYoung, effectively voted to reimburse Ingersoll for the management fee reductions he'd grudgingly accepted during the GTA's lean financial years in order to balance the school's budget. The resolution passed on a 3-0 vote, with the two remaining board members—Bruce Christensen and Mark Noss—skipping the meeting. 

Less than two weeks after that meeting, one of those three board members filed a massive bankruptcy petition, showing personal debts exceeding $1.2 million dollars. 

And roughly two years later, on August 1, 2014, the board's attorney, Kerry L. Morgan, sent two documents to Mark Dobias, an attorney representing Lake Superior State University. 

The documents had been sent to Morgan by current TCAPS school board member, Jan Geht, who still represents Steven Ingersoll. 

The documents were sent to Kerry L. Morgan on July 8, 2014, and reflected Smart Schools Management’s position that “Grand Traverse Academy owes it approximately $2.8 million in unpaid management fees going back a period of years”. 

Exhibit A was a proposed Settlement Agreement drafted by Smart Schools Management for adoption by the Grand Traverse Academy. 

Exhibit B was a resolution proposed by Smart Schools. Smart Schools Management's strong-arm agreement asserted that the GTA board, then headed by Ingersoll crony and covert business partner, Brad Habermehl, owed $2.8 million to Ingersoll, while acknowledging that SSM/Ingersoll may (emphasis on the “may”) owe the charter school $1.6 million. (The GTA does not owe Ingersoll $2.8 million, although some on the board still claim publicly it does.)

By approving the agreement, the GTA board would have recognized, according to the draft, the “hazards (and unwelcome publicity) of litigation and all the support that SSM has shown to the Academy over the years” when it agreed to “release SSM from any obligation to reduce the Non-Spendable Fund Balance of approximately $1.6 million in return for SSM’s agreement to release the Board and the Academy from any claim relating to the cumulative difference between the contractual management fee and the actual management fee (over approximately $2.8 million) that SSM may be legally entitled to as a result of the Reimbursement Resolution.” Unwelcome publicity? 

That sounds like it has my name on it! 

In addition, Exhibit A (the Settlement Agreement) stated that the “Board has been advised by SSM that it intends to donate to the Academy $1.6 million (or a portion thereof) as a charitable contribution in the future by the Board recognizes that SSM’s ability to do so hinges on the outcome of the dispute between Dr. Steven Ingersoll and the federal government.” 

(That so-called “dispute” resulted in three federal convictions on March 10, 2015, and a 41-month federal prison sentence for Steven J. Ingersoll. He currently rests on his haunches at FCI Duluth, a Minnesota prison camp.) 

But by signing the May 4, 2012 reimbursement resolution, Werth, Stockwell and DeYoung set in motion a course of actions that would later culminate in Steven Ingersoll's not-so-subtle July 2014 demand for an agreement that could have taken him off the hook for repayment of at least part of the money he later admitted under oath in federal court he owed the Traverse City charter school—nearly $5.0 million dollars. 

OK, it was $4,913,411, it you want to be precise! 

So I'm not surprised that the GTA currently finds itself again financially punch-drunk, mired in debt, a continuing hangover from the rapacious Ingersoll years. 

But I am surprised that Mark Noss' “if he builds it, the GTA will pay” scheme actually got as far as it did, with Full Spectrum Management's Noss able to generate two leases on behalf of his private property development arm, MDN Development, LLC, for the proposed 29,000 square foot addition over a two year period; and forced to conduct a ceremonial groundbreaking on March 18, 2016, smiling like a dazed chimp because an FSM whistleblower had revealed the financial relationship between Noss and Ingersoll to the board and officials at Lake Superior State University just two days prior; futz around furiously for financing before finally being forced to admit in March 2016 that he'd kept Steven Ingersoll on the FSM money teat for two years—and this charade is just now coming to an end? (Is it just me, or does this smell a little like collusion?) 

Where was the legal review back in 2015? 

Hell, the first document in this scheme—the initial lease agreement between the GTA and MDN Development—was signed on May 18, 2015! 

WTF, people?


  1. Thanks for keeping the public informed of the corruption of the board, the management companies, the LSSU personnel, and of course, the favorite criminal, Stevie boy!!! I wonder what kind of kick back he was giving these board members to be involved in his criminal acts. Personal friends, but, WTF were they considering to keep allowing this mess to continue attached to their names and reputations? Do they know they personal assets could be sued? They have a fiduciary duty to the charter school - new board appointed by the state - could go after their personal assets. Wonder what their personal liability insurance looks like?

  2. Thank goodness for the FSM whistleblower who informed LSSU of the irregularities between the GTA and FSM. When there is corruption, mismanagement, etc. good people need to do the right thing and speak up/speak out. We sincerely hope that accountant is doing well for the risks he took in exposing the GTA -SSM/FSM empire for what it truly is.

  3. Yes, I hope the accountant is doing good also and I am sure he has paid a price for doing the right thing! But that's what it's all about, living with yourself doing the right thing.

    Ingersoll’s case happened because Bradley's asbestos case led to charges against him. If he truly was doing the right thing he would have had nothing to worry about. Even where he sits now he still has not acted responsibly, but he is paying the price in his dreams! You cannot hide from yourself!