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Minnesota Man Opposes Student Branch
COOK, Minn. (5/6/13)--An attorney working for the North Woods School in Cook, Minn., has advised the school district not to enter into an agreement with Cook (Minn.) Area CU to provide a student-run credit union branch at the school. The credit union says it is a misunderstanding.

There is no Minnesota statute that allows school districts to enter into collaborations or arrangements with private entities such as a credit union, attorney John Colosimo wrote in a letter to the school's district Superintendent Teresa Knife Chief. Colisimo said the agreement would provide opportunities for the credit union to expand its business--which would benefit the credit union and create liability issues for the school (Timberjay.com April 30).

"I think when the school superintendent contacted [Colosimo], and asked him questions about a credit union in the school, [Colosimo] assumed it was to create a regular branch, like a main branch, to sell loans and credit cards and to make money," Richard Crettol, president/CEO of Cook Area CU, told News Now.

"He thought of it as joint venture--a school going into the credit union business," Crettol added. "We look at it as an educational partnership to provide education to kids," he added.

The situation has been a misunderstanding from the beginning, Crettol said. "I told the superintendent to have a more-detailed discussion with the attorney to get him to reverse his position and send a letter to the [local] newspaper," he added.

There were more than 700 credit union branches in schools and youth clubs in 34 states last year, according the Credit Union National Association. The first school credit union branch in Minnesota opened in 2012, said Timberjay.com.

There have been no known legal problems with the three other student-run credit unions in the state, Kelli Sandhurst, communications specialist with the Minnesota Credit Union Network, told News Now.  

"We are following the situation and are going to be working with the Minnesota Department of Commerce and Department of Education to see if there is a precedent for this," she added. "We also reached out to the credit union to offer any help they want."
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