Healey is moving forward in investigation of Mount Ida
Attorney General Maura Healey's office is seeking a broad swath of internal documents from Mount Ida College as part of her investigation into whether its president and trustees breached their duty to act in the best interest of the defunct school.
According to papers filed in Suffolk Superior Court this week, Healey is also asking the court for permission for her office to take testimony under oath of people who held or continue to hold positions at Mount Ida, including administrators, trustees, contractors, and lenders and creditors.
The filing is an important step in the investigation, which Healey announced two weeks ago in a scathing letter to the college.
Healey's office, which oversees nonprofits including many private colleges, said it would review whether top Mount Ida officials violated their fiduciary duties to the school. The public charities division of the attorney general's office oversees how charities use their charitable assets. Trustees and college presidents have a legal obligation to act in the charity's best interest and are required to file financial documents annually with the attorney general.
Among records Healey's office is seeking: any and all financial documents including audits, income statements, financial forecasts, bank account records, check registers, and records of cash flow, accounts payable, donations and receipts, court filings show.
Her office has also requested board meeting minutes, the college's conflict of interest policy and annual disclosure forms, documents about its failed merger with Lasell College, and documents about transactions with Carlson Property LLC, a pass-through corporation that funneled loans to the school from a private investor with personal ties to former college president Barry Brown.
Healey's staff is also seeking information about the recruitment and selection of trustees and about Brown's compensation, including his contract and any severance or separation agreements, documents show. Brown was paid $446,000 in 2015-16, the most recent year for which data is available.
She has also requested information about what the school told students whom it had admitted for the fall semester.
Those students were among the worst affected by the college's sudden closure. Many high school seniors had declined offers from other collegees in order to attend Mount Ida, only to find out after they had sent deposits that it would close.
The abrupt closure also left more than 1,000 other Mount Ida students scrambling to find places to continue their degrees in the fall. The school announced its closure in April without a plan in place for those students. The college also failed to notify state regulators of its closure, igniting outrage from the state Board of Higher Education.
Mount Ida College sold its campus to UMass Amherst for $75 million, documents show. That purchase has albeit reluctantly.
The request from Healey's office also asks Mount Ida for documents from consultants having to do with its finances, real estate or the potential Lasell merger, and records about what the school might have done to minimize deficits and forestall closure, along with any periodic reports administrators made to students, faculty, staff, donors, and prospective students, court documents show.
A spokeswoman in Healey's office declined comment, as the investigation is ongoing. Brown did not return a request for comment, nor did trustee chairwoman Carmin Reiss.
Healey's office also seeks documents about real estate sales or leases, lending and borrowing, creditors, insurance policies, and the criteria Mount Ida used to make admission and financial aid offers.
It also seeks correspondence between the college and the US Department of Education and correspondence among the college's senior management, trustees, and third parties about the possible closure, merger and the 2018-19 academic year.
According to the court filings, "correspondence" includes letters, notes, e-mails and text messages. The time period for all the requests is July 1, 2011, to the present. The court filing asks Mount Ida to ensure no documents responsive to the request are destroyed.
Healey is also seeking information about the college's accreditation process including correspondence between college officials and accreditors. The school was in the process of being re-accredited when it announced its closure.
Healey also requested documents about ratings assigned to the college by credit reporting agencies, documents about the criteria and process used to select preferred private lenders, and agreements with those lenders.
Last, the AG requested information about students who enrolled between 2015 and 2018 who have not graduated. She wants to know the total amount of tuition, fee, room and board charges and the median amounts of those charges funded by federal student loans, parent loans, private loans, and cash or credit card.