Traverse City Record-Eagle

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June 27, 2014

Charter school urges company to purge employees with Ingersoll ties

TRAVERSE CITY — Grand Traverse Academy board members urged their new management company to ensure its employees are not too closely tied to its former management group headed by Steven Ingersoll, the school's founder.

Ingersoll led Smart Schools Management Inc., the company that managed the publicly funded K-12 charter school on Hammond Road, until March, when he he left after being indicted on federal fraud charges.

Ties to Smart Schools remain even after the management torch was passed to a new company, Full Spectrum Management LLC, run by former Academy board president and Ingersoll colleague Mark Noss. The school prepaid $2.3 million to Smart Schools as its management fee, some of which still has to be repaid.

Academy Board members met for about three hours in a closed session Friday afternoon to discuss a resolution to further distance themselves from Smart Schools. The resolution urged Full Spectrum to reconsider any employees, especially those in management, with close ties to Smart Schools.

The management company employs all the school's employees.

"We've indicated that we are concerned about the individuals employed that were formerly employed by Smart Schools," said Kerry Morgan, a Wyandotte-based attorney hired to handle the matter. "This matter has received a lot of publicity and attention."

The resolution asks Full Spectrum to take "appropriate" action with regard to the school's director, Kaye Mentley. Board members, through the resolution, acknowledged that there are "ambiguities" among the school and its former and current management company.

It also affirmed that Full Spectrum should make the final personnel decisions. Noss declined to comment until he had time to review the resolution.

Ingersoll faces federal bank fraud and tax violation charges. Federal authorities allege Ingersoll used money from a $1.8 million bank loan that was supposed to be used to construct a school in Bay City to pay off some of his debt to Grand Traverse Academy.

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