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Thursday, September 30, 2021

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

The Michigan Department of Education's current investigation into the certification status of Brian Lynch, the self-proclaimed (and lushly paid) Superintendent of the Bay City Academy, isn't the MDE's first dive into the Bay City charter school.


As detailed in the MDE's August 11, 2021 "Phone call with Brian Lynch" memorandum (obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request), the official relates a conversation with Lynch.

Unconvinced when Lynch initially asserted he was "not aware" that he needed certification for one half of his dual-duty role as Superintendent, the head of Mitten Educational Management was schooled by the MDE official.

The official easily poked a hole in Lynch's flaccid defense, reminding the double-dipper that "Bay City Academy had received a State Aid deduction in just the previous school year due to one of their educators not holding certification all while Mr. Lynch did not hold certification."

Here are the details of Bay City Academy's August 7, 2020 MDE Certification Penalty case.

On June 15, 2020, the Michigan Department of Education notified the Bay City Academy that it had determined the charter school employed, in violation of state law, a teacher working without a valid Michigan teaching certificate.

The MDE assessed a $5,362.16 state aid deduction against the Bay  Academy, the amount of salary the school paid the teacher during the period of non-compliance.

Bay City Academy appealed the assessment to the Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction on June 26, 2020, and chose to present its appeal at a review conference (held on July 22, 2020).

The MDE issued a "Standard Secondary Teaching Certificate" on January 11, 2013 to a teacher who began teaching at the North Central Academy campus of the Bay City Academy in November of 2016. The certificate expired on June 30, 2019, but the teacher's certificate was not renewed until October 17, 2019.

Bay City Academy continued to employ the teacher at the North Central Academy without a valid Michigan teaching certificate when "Bay City Academy did not hold a substitute permit allowing" employment.

MDE reminders were sent to the teacher by email on February 11, April 10 and May 24, 2019 about the upcoming certificate expiration.

The teacher did not contact the MDE during 2019 until applying for a renewal of the certificate on October 15, 2019--nearly four months after the certificate expired.

In its defense, the Bay City Academy accused the MDE of "lack of diligence" leading to the delayed renewal of the teacher's certificate.

The decision noted the teacher did not "diligently pursue the required Ferris State University transcripts" to the MDE.

The $5,362.16 State Aid penalty against the Bay City Academy was upheld in an August 7, 2020 decision issued by the Michigan Department of Education.

In the decision, the MDE "acknowledge and appreciate that Bay City Academy had taken steps to ensure that such an oversight will not recur."

Except when it's done by the purported, double-dipping "Superintendent".


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.