This is one of the most bizarre stories of charter malfeasance that I have ever heard of.

Steven Ingersoll, the founder of a charter chain in Michigan, is currently serving a 41-month term in prison for tax fraud. In a series of complicated transactions, Ingersoll tapped the schools’ funds and transferred millions to his own bank account. The board of the chain consisted of his friends, and they were okay with the arrangement; apparently, they forgave him for funneling millions of dollars from the schools for his personal enrichment and did not demand repayment. Ingersoll owned the properties on which the charters paid rent. Ingersoll is an optometrist, and the sales pitch for his charter chain was that he had a unique take on “visioning.”

Ingersoll is in jail, but the charter for one of his schools was renewed earlier this year, and the charter is paying rent to Ingersoll while he is in prison.

“Bay City Academy had its charter renewed for the next three years, allowing the school to graduate its first class in 2020.

“Lake Superior State University renewed the charter this week. It included an option to renew for an additional two years, which would make it valid until 2023. Officials said the renewal is a result of the school’s recent uptick in enrollment and improved test scores.

“We have made huge growth in our academic achievement this year and continue to focus on school culture and success beyond the traditional classroom setting,” Principal Darci Long said in a statement.

“Brian Lynch, founder of Mitten Management, the charter school’s management company, said the renewal is validation that the school is moving in the right direction.

“It has had a rocky past. In March 2015, its founder, Steven J. Ingersoll, was convicted of tax fraud and later sentenced to 41 months in prison. Federal prosecutors said Ingersoll, who founded and managed Bay City Academy, ran a shell game and moved significant sums of money between business and personal bank accounts in an effort to hide the money for tax purposes…

“In November 2016, the school closed its Madison Arts Campus at 400 N. Madison Ave., after Chemical Bank foreclosed on it. Ingersoll owned the building at the time.

“Since February, the school has operated out of its Farragut Campus building, 301 N. Farragut St., which Ingersoll continues to own. Lynch said the school has an agreement with Wildfire Credit Union to continue making rent payments on the building.”