TRAVERSE CITY — No charges will be filed against a Traverse City Area Public Schools trustee who was accused of violating of the Michigan Open Meetings Act.
Erica Moon Mohr, a member of the TCAPS Board of Education, was under investigation by the Michigan State Police for possible OMA violations relating to statements she made during an October meeting. Moon Mohr denied the accusations.
The Michigan Attorney General’s office named Wexford County Prosecuting Attorney Jason Elmore as a special prosecutor for the case last month. Word came down Friday morning that Elmore declined charges, Grand Traverse County Prosecuting Attorney Noelle Moeggenberg confirmed. Moeggenberg requested a special prosecutor after she cited a possible conflict of interest.
“I’m relieved,” Moon Mohr said. “That’s not why this law was created. But there are some pretty heavily charged political things going on, so the fear that they would have just followed through on it for political purposes was a little nerve racking.”
The investigation called into question Moon Mohr’s actions during a special meeting of the TCAPS board on Oct. 11 in the wake of rumors regarding then-Superintendent Ann Cardon’s possible departure. Cardon signed a separation agreement Oct. 15, and the board publicly accepted her resignation and agreed to a $180,000 payout to Cardon on Oct. 17.
Moon Mohr read a statement regarding an Oct. 7 closed session at the beginning of the Oct. 11 meeting. The statement was a version of a letter Moon Mohr sent to four fellow trustees — board President Sue Kelly, and trustees Pam Forton, Jane Klegman and Jeff Leonhardt. On Oct. 10 the Record-Eagle obtained the letter and later confirmed its authenticity with Moon Mohr. In her letter and during her statement, Moon Mohr referred to that closed session as “an assault” on Cardon.
As Moon Mohr continued to read and referred to a complaint letter against Cardon — authored by Kelly and presented in the Oct. 7 closed session — Kelly interrupted Moon Mohr and said, “You are talking about closed session. That is illegal, and you are to cease, right now.” TCAPS legal counsel Jeff Butler also advised Moon Mohr that if she was discussing what happened in closed session that she needs to “stand down.”
The MSP investigation into the matter began Dec. 4, according to the complaint and supplemental reports received by the Record-Eagle through a Freedom of Information Act request. The person who filed the complaint, whose identity was redacted from the report provided by the MSP, met with a trooper on that date and laid out what she believed to be the situation.
Other TCAPS trustees and members of the public criticized Moon Mohr for her actions during the meeting, and several — including TCAPS Board Treasurer Matt Anderson — have said they believe she violated OMA.
Kelly released a statement regarding the decision that read, “We believe in the importance of laws and standards of practice at all levels and respect the decision made. We understand and appreciate, given coronavirus, that the government and courts are dealing with issues of higher levels of importance and wish the very best to parties involved to our community and state.”
The Record-Eagle filed a lawsuit in January against the TCAPS board and Kelly on accusations of OMA and Freedom of Information Act violations related to the circumstances surrounding Cardon’s departure.