The Up North Progressive has been busy this week with “Haha, you’re getting older” medical tests and birthday celebrations and stuff, but not too busy to receive the wonderful news that former for-profit cancer school and snake oil IVL huckster Dr. Steven Ingersoll was sentenced to 41 months at Club Fed on December 15, 2016. Honestly, after all this time those of us paying attention to this trial wondered if he would ever spend a night behind bars.
The Bay City Times and Traverse City Record-Eagle reported about the sentencing. Both published similar stories about a man who made mistakes with some QuickBooks files and didn’t fix the problem before the Feds caught him in the act and busted him for it. Come on, who hasn’t remembered to carry a balance forward? Laced with plenty of pleas from his attorney turned TCAPS school board member that Ingersoll was a frail man who needed the best medical care provided by the best doctors, Judge Ludington finally had enough and told Ingersoll he had a month of freedom left.
What really rustled the Up North Progressive’s Jimmies is the impression both articles made that poor, sickly Steve tried to do right, but the problem grew until it was more than he could manage on his own.
What a bunch of malarkey.
This blog reported on a teacher who worked for Ingersoll in Brighton, Michigan, 20 years ago and described “Lots of shifty practices, sub-companies and corporations that moved A LOT of money around.” Ingersoll’s financial practices are not a recent development, he’s always done business this way. What makes it easy for criminals like Ingersoll and the three hundred other charters operating for-profit cancer schools in Michigan is the lack of real oversight and regulations on what happens to the taxpayers’ money once it goes to the management company. Those are called ‘third party vendors’ and once all that delicious public funding touches their hands, it becomes private assets, and private is private; as in that charter school doesn’t have to disclose what happens to those funds any more.
And then there were the arguments that Integrated Visual Learning (IVL) had value because the program cures people’s poor reading skills, ADHD, and even benefits people with Autism. On this blog, Miss Fortune’s excellent blog, and even in the comment sections and editorial pages of Michigan newspapers, parents and employees have come forward describing Ingersoll’s schools where parents were forced to sign medicaid forms for services never received, being bullied into paying outrageous sums of money on vision therapy for their children, students who lost an entire grade level in academic growth after spending one year at Ingersoll’s schools, and on and on. A philanthropist? A man who just wants to help children be better learners? A miracle worker who cures ADHD?
Dr. Steve Ingersoll is a vision therapy optometrist who jumped on the for-profit charter school bandwagon two decades ago and discovered an easy way to take public funds meant for educating children and use that money to fund his own little empire. He even tried to turn a part of Bay City into a company town! Now he faces bankruptcy, tax foreclosure, his terrible schools are closing down, and he’s going to prison after gorging on millions of taxpayer dollars.
That’s good, right? He’s only one. There are still plenty of con artists in Michigan with no background in education asking the Michigan Department of Education to green-light their school, regardless of experience, education, or even a basic command of simple bookkeeping. Michigan has no cap, and we have the most for-profit cancer schools operating in the country.
And this cancer is spreading to Washington DC in a matter of days.