Yesterday, an Escambia County Grand Jury indicted Newpoint Education Partners, LLC; School Warehouse, Inc.; Red Ignition, LLC; and Epiphany Management, LLC for grand theft, money laundering and aggravated white collar crime in relation to the charter schools it ran in Escambia County.
Newpoint and three of its vendors – School Warehouse, Red Ignition and Epiphany–were charged with fraudulently billing the local charter schools for hundreds of thousands of dollars of supplies, equipment, and services. It is furthered alleged that Newpoint, in concert with the vendors, laundered the proceeds of the thefts through multiple bank accounts to conceal the criminal activity. The source of the funds was the charter school program grant funds appropriated by the State of Florida for charter schools to use to procure supplies, equipment, and services to start charter schools.
Last summer, I interviewed dozens of former teachers and administrators who worked for Newpoint in charter schools around the state of Florida that were run by Marcus May, President & CEO of Newpoint Education Partners. There wasn’t a lot about May in the media, but I found his bio in a 2010 charter school application for Pinellas County (Mystery man).
A former teacher in Bay County liked the challenge of teaching at a charter school but was quickly dismayed at how his Newpoint school was run.
“My perspective is that charter schools have a terrific opportunity to make a terrific difference for kids that really need this kind of environment,” he shared last June. “However, what very much disappoints me is that this has essentially become a boondoggle for wealthy people to continue to be wealthy.”
He said that May, who came from Ohio, looked down on people in Florida. “For some reason, I think Marcus got it into his mind that everybody down here in the south is dumb. I’ll tell you what, I’ve been in Ohio. They’ve got rednecks everywhere, Rick. Anyway, that’s why I think Marcus always, whenever he did show up with his very fashionable jeans and Corduroy jacket there, no tie. Anyway, he just tended to not show much respect for the people.”
The former teacher said that all financial decisions at the Bay County school had to be run through May. He said that several school vendors had ties to May
“I started to see that Newpoint is just a building, but it’s a 501(c)(3) (federal tax exempt non-profit). There’s nothing that the building has, nothing. Newpoint Education Partners is the business. All the money from the school goes to the business. The school itself has nothing. Everything goes through Newpoint.
It turns out that the IT providers is a business that Marcus had a vested interest in. It turns out that the people that were doing the website, and you’ll have to vet this of course, but it turned out that the people that were doing the website were also, Marcus had a vested interest in this. If I’m not mistaken, Ahola, which is the payroll company, Marcus also has a vested interest in it. Everybody’s getting paid and Marcus is sitting on the top of this pyramid.”
I’ve started pouring through my files and notes. I will post more next week. If any former Newpoint teachers want to contact me, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are the indictments: