The Mid-Central/GEAR UP scandal is now bursting with lawsuits.
- Mid-Central Educational Cooperative is suing the American Indian Institute for Innovation for not fulfilling its contractual obligations and for secretly using Mid-Central like an ATM.
- Declaring innocence, AIII is suing the estates of Scott and Nicole Westerhuis, saying those two Mid-Central/AIII employees stole the money.
- Mid-Central is also seeking $2 million from Scott Westerhuis’s estate.
- Todd County HS alumna Alyssa Black Bear is starting a class action lawsuit against Mid-Central for failure to deliver the benefits of the GEAR UP program to her and her fellow American Indian students.
Plus we have criminal cases against AIII exec Stacy Phelps, former Mid-Central exec Dan Guericke, and former Mid-Central business officer Stephanie Hubers, plus more criminal and civil shoes that could drop on a varied cast of GEAR UP characters.
Remember: our courts wouldn’t be clogged with all this litigation if former Education Secretary Rick Melmer hadn’t farmed GEAR UP out to his friends back home in Charles Mix County over a decade ago. And none of these lawsuits would be happening if current Education Secretary Melody Schopp had acted on the warnings it had of financial misconduct at Mid-Central when she came into office six years ago.
p.s.: No one should be suing over that “mysterious” GEAR UP storage unit in Rapid City. Mid-Central director Bob Krietlow and DCI opened the unit up Wednesday, and as I suspected, they found nothing unusual or criminally implicative, just desks, furniture, and textbooks. Attorney General Marty Jackley says those items have been sent to Black Hills State University, which is now coordinating and hosting the GEAR UP summer program.