Pontiac teachers’ health insurance cancelled when district uses insurance premiums to balance its books

They’re being attacked from ALL sides

This story is truly outrageous. Pontiac teachers have filed a lawsuit against the Pontiac school district for collecting money from their paychecks for health insurance coverage and then using the money to make their bottom line look better to the state of Michigan rather than paying premiums. As a result, the teachers’ health coverage will be cancelled at the end of the month.

Pontiac teachers are accusing the school board, business manager and former school superintendent of fraud, deceit and malfeasance for taking money out of their paychecks for health insurance premiums and using it in the general fund for operations.

In fact, Michael Lee, attorney for the Pontiac Education Association, alleged in an Oakland County Circuit lawsuit filed this week that the reason school officials were putting the money into the general fund was to try and deceive Michigan officials as to the status of the state-approved plan to reduce the district’s deficit of $37.7 million.

“They have been taking money out of our checks and they haven’t been paying MESSA (Michigan Education Special Services Association),” said Aimee McKeever, president of the PEA.

As a result, the insurance carrier canceled coverage effective July 31. [...]

The lawsuit names each trustee individually, including Board President Carrol Turpin, Vice President Karen Cain, Secretary Brenda Carter, Treasurer Sherman Williams II and trustees Susan Loveland, Mattie McKinney-Hatchett and S. Barbara Raby.

Also named are Paul Bryant, business manager, who, according to the lawsuit, has sole authority to make payments to vendors; and former Superintendent Brian Dougherty, who was charged with running daily operations from Aug. 27, 2012 until May 17, 2013.

The district actually owes MESSA $11 million going back as far as the 2011-2012 school year.

This case will likely be used to defend taking over the Pontiac school system under the control of an emergency manager. It is currently “under review” by the state of Michigan. The first thing that should happen is that these corrupt school officials should be sent to jail for their crimes if the allegations are found to be true. What happens all too often is that corruption at the top is then projected on to the teachers who are the innocent victims of poor management, corruption, and malfeasance. They are then victimized again by being portrayed as greedy for wanting health insurance in the first place.

Rather than using this as an excuse to screw teachers over more, we should be using it as a motivation to (a) better fund our schools, (b) start treating teachers with the dignity and respect that they deserve, and (c) pass a single-payer, universal health care law that would solve this issue once and for all.

If one single teacher or one of their family members is harmed or, Goddess forbid, dies because they lack health insurance from this, the people responsible for this heinous act will bear the full responsibility.

It’s important to note that this isn’t just moving around piles of money that are in the school district’s budget. They literally took money the teachers paid out of pocket and applied it to their bottom line. The outcome is that these teachers effectively had their benefits stripped and their pay cut at the same time and they never even knew it was happening. It is theft, pure and simple.

These teachers deserve better. So, so much better.

  • http://ramonasvoices.blogspot.com/ Ramona

    They owe MESSA 11 million dollars?? How the hell did they think they were going to make that up? There’s a bigger story here than mere incompetence or even fear. This administration puts school districts in an untenable position by threatening takeovers if they dare to go into the red. it doesn’t go unnoticed that the Snyder/Koch bunch will do everything they can to make sure public school districts are forced to go into the red. It takes some clever maneuvering to get around that, but this is insanity.

    If I were into conspiracy theories, I might suspect this was deliberate. More than a couple of people had to know this was happening and that there would be a reckoning some day. There is no way they could fix this, since the money went into the general fund, where there was no surplus.and apparently no chance of a surplus in the future.

    More to come. Can hardly wait.

  • Arakiba

    Sounds like stealing to me.

  • Michael Ombry

    Thanks for raising these issues. Unfortunately they will continue to arise. There is a system in place that does not work. When funding is cut the entire system is put under stress. Because funding does not arrive until late in the first semester districts must go through the dance of budgeting and borrowing without knowing what their funding will be. There are bound to be problems. Throw in other variables, healthcare costs, transportation and fuel costs, etc., and it is a wonder that any district works financially. Why not guarantee and pre-fund at the level of the previous year. Adjustments made later would be minor and could cushion the effects of a drop in enrollment or bump up funding for an increase in students.

    • http://eclectablog.com Eclectablog

      How about the school district administrators don’t steal from the teachers and effectively slash their benefits???

      • la58

        Just like Hostess did to the Unions, now its happening to the public sector Unions

        • Incriminally Sane

          What are you saying “now it’s happening to the public sector unions”? Is/was Hostess a “Private Sector Union”? As in Government Union? What do you know that the “Public” does not?

          • frustratedinmich

            Yes, hostess was a privately owned company, (as opposed to owned by the government) therefore its union members were considered to be from the private sector.

          • la58

            He has no clue about Unions. Or a troll.

  • Brian Burkowitz

    good lesson for teachers, play by the rules and get screwed, tell those kids how great the JEWsa is now

  • Drdetroitdanchap

    This is diversion of funds, felony fraud. Where are the Prosecutors? the FEDS? Who is in jail? ——————– F.T.G.

    • http://eclectablog.com Eclectablog

      Well, they just filed the lawsuit this week so I’m thinking they need some time to let the justice system work it out.

  • Kathy Mayo

    This is pathetic & wrong!!

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  • Repairman632

    It may turn out that these administrators did this due to the same motivations that led to the cheating scandals in Atlanta and DC. No excuse at all, just a possible explanation. They stupidly played right into the hands of the emergency manager scam which may have been a part of the original motivation for the budget demands – force the creation of failure as an excuse to take over.

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