INGERSOLL CASE: "Not Motivated Exclusively by Greed," Judge Rules
Cash Flow "Reminded Me of Enron," Accountant Who Declined Case Said
September 30, 2016
By: Dave Rogers
Dr. Steven Ingersoll
The possibility of Dr. Steven Ingersoll going to prison for tax fraud or other charges against him anytime soon seem less and less likely, according to sources close to the extremely complicated Bay City Federal Court case.
Federal Judge Thomas Ludington said in his opinion that it appears Ingersoll was so distracted by his success with charter schools and his concepts of student learning that he was unable to focus on financial matters and secure proper financial management of the enterprise.
Indications are that the future of the Michigan charter school industry, which represents a massive shift in philosophy from government determination of a child's school to parental choice, could rest on the outcome of the Ingersoll case.
Implications for all schools were cited by Moody's Investor Services newsletter in 2013: "The dramatic rise in charter school enrollments over the past decade is likely to create negative credit pressure on school districts in economically weak urban areas. Charter schools tend to proliferate in areas where school districts already show a degree of underlying economic and demographic stress."
Ingersoll, a behavioral optometrist, has asserted that the philosophy behind his Integrated Visual Learning is also on trial in the case since many educators doubt its efficacy and are eager to challenge it. The reality behind that assertion is inherent in the philosophical approach to educating children embraced by most of the leaders and practitioners of the educational establishment.
In other words, the way children learn and how they are taught, are also at stake in the case, according to Ingersoll. Instead of using the traditional compensatory education model of teaching to the student's learning style, IVL seeks to change their learning style, he said.
A projected Dec. 15 sentencing deadline may stretch until spring, sources speculate, and Ingersoll's attorney has already indicated the case will be appealed to the Sixth Circuit.
The cash flow on which some of the charges are based "reminded him of Enron," an accountant who reviewed the evidence asserted, according to the opinion. James Camiller C.P.A., of Lewiston, said Ingersoll was informed that the manner in which he was financing his personal development of the Bay City development may be a misuse of SSM (Smart Schools Management) and SSI (Smart Schools Incorporated) funds without payment of tax. Because of the complexity of the matter, Camiller declined to work for Ingersoll and advised him to seek a larger accounting firm, which he failed to do, according to the judge's opinion.
(Enron was a scandal revealed in 2001 involving energy firms in Texas moving money between various entities to avoid paying taxes. Several executives went to prison for a variety of crimes as a result. At that time, Enron was in the news as being a major fraud case that involved a conglomerate with lots of entities that moved money amongst all of them but no one had any income.)
"The focal allegation in the Government's case against Defendant Ingersoll (as to counts 2, 6 and 7) was that he transferred funds to himself that were earned by SSM and SSI providing charter school management services to GTA without paying income tax on his receipt of those funds," Judge Ludington wrote.
In a Sept. 22 opinion, Judge Thomas L. Ludington wrote:
"Ingersoll was not motivated exclusively by material greed. On the contrary, he believed in the
Smart Schools learning the model and the Front Porch Initiative and was driven to expand the model
to Bay City and the I-75 corridor. The success of the project preoccupied Ingersoll, causing him
to knowingly disregard legal responsibilities including the maintenance of basic accounting
records, to misreport his working capital for the project, and to disregard the safety of
The Front Porch Initiative was spotlighted in Bay City where Ingersoll had acquired numerous run-down buildings and sought to renovate them and reinvigorate neighborhoods, harkening back to the old days when social life revolved around front porches.
The Smart Schools learning model involved Integrated Visual Learning, an Ingersoll concept he has lectured on internationally.
Integrated Visual Learning is described by the Excel Institute of Battle Creek and Traverse City as:
"The multi-disciplinary collaborative effort of Patricia Engler (psychology), Bruce Christensen, Mark Noss and Steve Ingersoll (optometry) resulted in the body of diagnostic and treatment techniques referred to as Integrated Visual Learning.
"IVL is an extension of the concepts and procedures of behavioral optometry into the field of education. IVL is vision therapy with a cognitive finish.
"The philosophy of compensatory education has been to teach to the learning style of underachieving students. IVL seeks to change the student's learning style. Most unsuccessful students fail due to deflected learning and attention distribution strategies as opposed to lack of intellectual potential or abnormal brain architecture. These children need to learn how to learn. The three phases of IVL treatment result in a change in learning and attention style. The IVL program has been successfully implemented at the Grand Traverse Academy, a charter school founded by Dr. Ingersoll."
Patty Engler, director of training and development, described the process used in Smart Schools: "IVL teaches students how to think visually and in patterns -- a perfect match for students' natural development. This unique teaching method integrates cognitive and visual activities. The process sets the stage for success with written language in reading and writing."
"The BUZZ" - Read Feedback From Readers!
On September 30, 2016
at 02:30 PM
About 16 years ago, Dr Ingersoll described to me personally his new teaching / learning concept that he was promoting. He did so with a great deal of passion and conviction. We later talked about his vision for restoring old structures in Bay City - again with true passion.
Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at email@example.com)
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