Former Traverse City Area Public Schools Administrative Assistant Mary Gillison was arraigned on December 18 for allegedly embezzling between $1,000 and $20,000 over a five year period. It could be even more, but the statute of limitations is five years. Mary used to handle money at West Middle School dealing with yearbook sales, Scholastic book club orders and the book fair, the school store, and school credit card purchases. She used school funds to buy personal items such as shoes, concert tickets and manicures.
Mary Gillison, if found guilty of the charges, should receive whatever punishment the law allows. Stealing from a school is a serious offense, as the money that funds our schools comes from the taxpayers. What is bothersome about this article however is that the media in Michigan widely reported on this case when the amount stolen in the indictment is only thousands.
Also in Traverse City is for-profit charter school Grand Traverse Academy. They’re struggling with debt after their former management company owner, Dr. Steve Ingersoll, embezzled $3.5 million from them, then allegedly committed felony fraud when he put another $2 million in his personal account from a bank loan. He’s facing 30 years in prison and his federal felony fraud trial begins in February. The $3.5 million is also taxpayer funds, and the $2 million he and his contractor, Roy Bradley, stole from the building loan was supposed to pay for renovating a church in Bay City to turn into another for-profit charter school that would have received more taxpayer money from the state.
If we do the math here, $3.5 million in embezzled taxpayer money is a lot more than $1,000 to $20,000 in embezzled taxpayer money, but for some reason Mary Gillison gets more press about her alleged crimes than Steve Ingersoll.
Where is the press on Dr. Steve Ingersoll? The news loves to report anything negative they possibly can about public schools, whether it’s about getting low standardized test scores, school staff accused of criminal sexual conduct, or embezzlement. Why is Dr. Steve Ingersoll and Grand Traverse Academy not news worthy? Not only did GTA know Ingersoll was stealing money, the charter school board tried to cover it up.
It’s only worth reporting when it happens in a public school.