TRAVERSE CITY -- Traverse City Area Public Schools board members will consider a conciliation agreement with Michigan Secretary of State officials tonight to resolve a complaint that district administrators misspent taxpayer money in 2012 -- and Superintendent Stephen Cousins likely will foot most of the bill.
Secretary of State officials determined district administrators misspent $24,800 in taxpayer money to print and distribute illegal campaign fliers that promoted TCAPS' 2012 bond millage.
The revised agreement allows $10,000 of the $24,800 to come in the form of campaign finance requirements training for district officials. TCAPS' attorneys, Thrun Law Firm, agreed to provide the training at no charge.
Cousins agreed to pay the remaining $14,800 to the district. Payments will be made in quarterly installments, with the full $14,800 to be paid by June 1, 2015.
"I said from the beginning of this that the responsibility of the use of the word 'support' in our literature was my responsibility, and therefore it seems right that I would take responsibility for the district," Cousins said.
Secretary of State officials began their investigation after former Grand Traverse County Commissioner Jason Gillman filed a complaint with the state against TCAPS and Cousins in October 2012. His complaint alleged the district improperly used public money by directing voters to authorize the bond proposal.
Michigan's Campaign Finance Act prohibits the use of public money to promote or denounce a ballot question.