Jacqueline Harris Preparatory Academy: In August 2002, the Escambia County School Board voted to sell its McReynolds school property to the charter school for its appraised value.
School founder Celestine Lewis switched the sale of the McReynolds property to a for-profit company she formed the day before the closing, Creative Projects. The school, operating under the nonprofit New Road to Learning, then signed a 10-year lease for the property – $10,000 per month.
Internal auditors for the Escambia County School District reported on the switch in 2004, but nothing was done.
In 2009, the school signed a new charter agreement with a specific conflict of interest clause. The school district didn’t enforce the clause. Subsequent audit reports highlighted several related party transactions.
In June 2013, school agreed to an 10-year extension of the lease with Creative Projects, $11,000 years.
In March 2014, Creative Projects sold the McReynolds property to Durga Das Trust and took a mortgage. The lease was assigned to Durga Das Trust. The lease payments – if paid out for the remainder of the lease – would have nearly reimbursed Durga Das Trust for its purchase price.
In 2017, school moved to Pensacola Boulevard but still had to pay lease on McReynolds property.
In May 2019, Durga Das Trust agreed to $350,000 buyout of the lease. School had to borrow money to make the payment. Durga Das Trust paid off its mortgage with Creative Projects. School was demolished September 2019.
1. Inweekly Outtakes and Cover Story.
2. Lease Agreement between New Road to Learning and Creative Projects: 2002 lease
3. Internal Audit Report – Compliance
4. Internal Auditor Notes – Audit notes
5. 2009 Charter Agreement,Conflict of Interest clause on page 27 – PRR #1100 09 Charter
6. Audit reports 2012-2018, Related Party transactions – Related Party Notes
7. Lease extension – Board Minutes 2013, Lease Amendment
8. Durga Das Trust Warranty Deed & Assumption of Lease – Durga.sale
9. Durga Das Mortgage – Durga Das Trust Mortgage
10. Lease buyout, Minutes, Check Register, Mortgage Satisfaction – buyout