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Sunday, June 4, 2017


“The issue of whether or not the Academy’s audit was incorrectly stated at the time is directly related to the original federal investigation and resulting criminal proceedings, and would not by itself appear to constitute a new crime or rise to a level that law enforcement would be involved,” MDE spokesman Martin Ackley wrote this week in an email to the Record-Eagle.

If you'd only read the story in today's Record-Eagle, you might think someone requested that the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) conduct a criminal investigation of the Grand Traverse Academy — but you'd be wrong.

On March 31, 2017, I emailed a formal complaint to the MDE (copied simultaneously to every member of the Grand Traverse Academy board), asking the department to review the Grand Traverse Academy’s June 30, 2014 financial audit, focusing on the board's decision to credit Steven Ingersoll with a $1.8 million debt repayment. 

When auditors from the accounting firm Dennis, Gartland & Niergarth noted in the Grand Traverse Academy's June 30, 2013 financial audit that Ingersoll had withheld repayment of his overpaid fees, Ingersoll led a concerted effort that pushed against on the auditor's findings — actions that ultimately led to the complaint I filed.

That's it. 

No wild-eyed allegations or a breathless attempt at self-promotion, just a hard-nosed request for a close examination of the source details (like actual bank statements) that confirmed to the Grand Traverse Academy board that Ingersoll had indeed paid back the money.
Here's why: that questionable decision by the board excused a huge portion of Steven Ingersoll's outstanding debt, leaving him with a $1.6 million debt balance, later written off to bad debt by the end of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014. 

However, if the board refused to go along with Ingersoll's deception, it would have been faced with writing off $3.4 million to bad debt, not $1.6 million.

The repayment claim, first proffered by Ingersoll in a June 16, 2013 letter to then-board attorney Doug Bishop, was invalidated in October 2015 during Ingersoll's sentencing hearing by federal prosecutors and an IRS criminal investigator.

According to a federal court document filed on October 19, 2015, Ingersoll failed to disclose that he had also transferred funds from the GTA account to his SSM account. The net impact of transfers made by Ingersoll from July 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012 between the accounts for GTA and SSM was that SSM, and therefore Ingersoll, received $114,700 more from GTA then the GTA received from SSM. The October 19, 2015 document revealed Ingersoll transferred $1,748,300 to the GTA, but transferred $1,863,000 back to SSM. 

Instead of providing legitimate bank records as requested initially by Bishop, Ingersoll provided crudely-forged “bank statement entries” that were accepted without further investigation by the board.

(Stunning insider collusion among Ingersoll, Mark Noss and Kaye Mentley leading up to acceptance of Ingersoll's “bank statement details” was revealed in a recent post on this blog.)

Once documents contradicting Steven Ingersoll’s $1,813,330 “repayment” assertion were entered into evidence by the federal government, the Grand Traverse Academy board had a fiduciary duty to act.  

But it didn't.

In the use of public funds, public officials are held to the standard of care and fiduciary duties that a trustee owes a beneficiary under Michigan law.

It’s clear this case was on the board’s radar, and that it was likely aware in late 2015 that the government’s October 19, 2015 analysis of Steven Ingersoll’s “repayments” contradicted his version — the version Mark Noss told Ingersoll in a December 9, 2013 email “every board member saw and understood.”

The interests of the GTA board would not be well-served if the board acknowledged a seven-figure deficit resulting from Ingersoll’s misuse of state funds that should have drawn greater scrutiny by MDE and Lake Superior State University (LSSU), and also harm GTA’s bond rating.

It should have been an easy task for the MDE's Internal Control Officer to request source documents and other pertinent details from the GTA board.

But on Friday, at 1:31pm, the MDE's spokesperson Martin Ackley sent me the following email in response, I initially presumed, to my May 31 email requesting an update on the complaint I'd filed March 31, 2017.

However, 13 minutes after Ackley responded to me, he sent a nearly identical email to a reporter at the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Although the Record-Eagle may have trolled my blog for this story, it failed to request or review my complaint, or contact me for a comment. In addition, that story served only to discredit the red-hot allegation that the GTA board willingly went along with Ingersoll's deception.

Not a surprise, when you consider then-president Brad Habermehl, testifying during Steven Ingersoll's sentencing hearing on December 8, 2015, admitted under oath that the GTA board had waived recovery and “agreed to excuse the 5 million” Ingersoll owed the school. 

Here are the guts of my complaint:

On Monday, June 5, I will be responding to Mr. Ackley and the MDE, expressing my displeasure with the Department's deliberate misinterpretation of my March 31, 2017 complaint.

Oh, and I will be refiling that complaint...and sending a copy to Richard Cunningham in the Michigan Attorney General's office.

Come on, don't you want to know the truth?


  1. So in other words the MDE just gives out taxpayers money with no oversight OH wait a minute oversight?
    So the MDE compliments you on your efforts?what's that say?
    of course they're not law enforcement what a dipshit!

    1. Keep the pressure up. The MDE may not be a law enforcement agency, but, are they not required to deal with reporting suspected fraudulent issues to the attention of the FBI. Why is it good for Detroit (the MDE baby) and not good for a charter school? Is it because Charter schools are treated differently?

  2. Doesn't this all boil down to one, there has never been an investigation into Ingersoll's mishandling of funds at GTA. Two, his reason for being in jail has to do with BCA and his own personal tax evasion. Three, Ingersoll admitted that he didn't repay the money owed GTA under oath. Doesn't that raise red flags to the people of TC? It is Ingersoll's handpicked GTA board that is excusing him of taking the millions. Everyone from the board, newspapers, MDE, LSSU, are all covering up this crime and don't want it unveiled. And the real fact is Mark Noss who was the president of the board when all of this happened, then became the company that is running GTA, and still kept paying Ingersoll. So this uninvestigated, covered-up crime continues. The president of the board at GTA is lying all the way to the bank on this one and the corruption continues. I wonder how much money they have really pulled out of that school. If this corruption continues then it is going to cost the tax payers dearly. An investigation would be simple and the cost would save this school millions. It is corruption and needs to be investigated! If we don't stop these crooks from stealing our children's educations then we truly are an ignorant society.

  3. If the Traverse City Record Eagle Newspaper can not give investigated unbiased stories, then what good is it. Sounds like a propaganda rag to me. Shame on you Record Eagle for doing a disserve to your community!

  4. So let me get this straight, when all of this money laundering was going on, Ingersoll moving money around making it look like he gave the school money but then he would just take it back out and sometimes take even more, MARK NOSS was the president of the board! And now he is the business running the school? Now if that doesn't sound suspicious. And who is the president of the board now? Have they been there all along too?
    Sound like a real white collar welfare scheme to me. When is the investigation going to pick up steam? I want these crooks out of our schools! We need to stop them from taking from children and our community. If we want a great community we need to stand up to corruption, because it will only turn this sweet town upside down.

  5. The MDE has a responsibility to the taxpayers and children. They need to feel everyone's pressure, otherwise they will sweep it under the table.

    1. You are absolutely right! We all need to do our jobs as responsible citizens and demand the MDE do their job. It's not an easy job to investigate such activities as those done by the GTA management companies (both Ingersoll's Smart Schools and Noss's Full Spectrum), but it HAS to be done.

  6. With what is going on with education and Betsey DeVos, you would think the MDE would be all over this. Isn't their main focus education and children? Doesn't seem like they are doing their job if they let this criminal act go on. Guess people need to start checking on what the MDE is actually up to.

    1. What does the MDE do? Outside of listing rules, does anyone know how all the rules are enforced? Do they reduce money? Or, is the reality, the MDE is all talk?