Charter school management company Newpoint Education Partners pleads not guilty
Newpoint Education Partners, a charter school management company that was indicted along with three related companies earlier this month, has pleaded not guilty to charges of grand theft, money laundering and aggravated white collar crime.
Attorneys appeared on the company's behalf in Escambia County court on Thursday, said state prosecutor Russell Edgar, and submitted written pleas. It is unclear whether the attorneys represented just Newpoint or the other related companies as well, which are Epiphany Management Group, Red Ignition and School Warehouse. He said the case has since been taken off of the docket, and prosecutors are still working on a witness list and responding to the attorneys' request for discovery.
A grand jury charged the companies with laundering money and fraudulently billing schools for supplies, equipment and services with federal start-up grant funds for charter schools. A Times investigation found that similar activity has occurred in Pinellas County, where Newpoint managed five charter schools.
Newpoint's founder, Marcus May, its president, Eileen Quinlan, and the company's lawyer signed a release terminating contracts with the Pinellas schools effective April 30. Those schools, Windsor Preparatory Academy and East Windsor Middle Academy in St. Petersburg, Newpoint Pinellas Academy, Newpoint Pinellas High and Enterprise High in Clearwater are all currently self-managing.
Together, those schools currently enroll more than 1,300 students and receive $8.5 million in state funding.
Three of those schools, Windsor Prep, East Windsor and Newpoint Pinellas Academy, have been issued 90-day notice of termination letters by the Pinellas County School Board.