The Michigan based Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) training program, the Greater Michigan Construction Academy (GMCA), was investigated by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) for inappropriately receiving Taxpayer money. The GMCA falsely told local School Districts that their programs were approved by the MDE as Career and Technical Education (CTE) and/or Dual-Enrollment provider. They were not approved by the MDE in any way (1).
GMCA charged public school districts as much as $2,400 per student (2), for classes they were not approved to teach and in the process accepted taxpayer money that was meant for classrooms.
The ABC led GMCA training program was the subject of an investigation by the Michigan Department of Education to determine whether to penalize School Districts who wrongly partnered with the training program as CTE or Dual-Enrollment providers.
In order to enter agreements, and accept certain taxpayer funds, education vendors, like GMCA, must meet rigorous standards and be approved by the MDE. GMCA did not meet these required standards and made no attempt to be approved by the State Education Department. Despite this, they told several School Districts the opposite in order to obtain funds that were meant for classrooms and legitimate approved programs.
In some cases, the GMCA charged School Districts up to $2,400 per student for HVAC classes. Some students were in programs which would require them to continue to pay $1,000s extra and take classes for years from GMCA after high school to obtain a certificate. The total amount of taxpayer money that ABC received is unknown. Fortunately, most school districts immediately ceased their programs with ABC’s GMCA upon learning about the MDE investigation.
Michigan based DOL Apprenticeship programs offered by the ABC are among the worst performing in the state, both in terms of registration and graduation rates. Since 2000 only 236 registered Apprentices have completed ABC programs and on average only 14 out of 100 enrolled graduates (3). The numbers are even worse in regards to women and minority apprentices; respectively two and seven have completed their DOL training with ABC sponsored programs (4).