Students across Pinellas County returned to school nearly a month ago. But the families of more than 700 students who were previously enrolled at Windsor Preparatory Academy and East Windsor Middle Academy wish they were still Windsor Wildcats.
They blamed Newpoint Education Partners, a management company indicted by a grand jury for money laundering and fraudulently billing three Escambia County publicly funded schools for supplies, equipment and services, for mismanagement that jeopardized the two St. Petersburg charter schools. Windsor Prep and East Windsor officially closed after the school district could not agree on the school property's price tag to take over the schools.
Now, after families have moved on (Newpoint Pinellas Academy is still in operation under an appeal), Newpoint has risen from the dead. Newpoint, according to its updated website, maintains its innocence and posted information to counter "misinformation and unanswered questions in circulation about what is going on with Newpoint Education Partners."
There are many, many things that are blatantly false on Newpoint's website, but chief among them:
- This statement, under a category called Newpoint School Loans/Debt: "The press was provided all of this information. However, because the information does not support their story it was ignored completely. Interestingly, the story which showed parental support for keeping the schools open was not in any way attributed to the fact that Newpoint runs excellent schools and has strong customer support."
Not true. In fact, the Times was not provided any information from Newpoint after it disappeared March 8, the day its president, Eileen Quinlan, announced it had been acquired by Alliance Education Services. The Times called, emailed and sent certified mail to Quinlan and other Newpoint executives, including its founder Marcus May, seeking comment for its investigation and received no response.
Further, families loved the schools Newpoint was contracted to operate, and to save them, they actively worked to rid the schools of Newpoint.
- Speaking of Alliance, which only had a "conceptual agreement" to acquire Newpoint, there is no mention of Alliance on Newpoint's website. A May 1 web archive of Newpoint's website announces Alliance's acquisition of their company. But ever since Newpoint was indicted, Alliance has distanced itself from Newpoint, with its chief academic officer going as far as saying Alliance has not been in touch with Newpoint "for quite a while."
- Newpoint's explanation of its relationship with three other indicted companies (School Warehouse, Red Ignition and Epiphany Management Group, all charged along with Newpoint for grand theft, money laundering and aggravated white collar crime): The only relationship between Newpoint and the other indicted companies is that they are vendors of the schools Newpoint manages. Neither Newpoint nor its founder have any ownership interest in any of these vendors.
Newpoint's connections to those companies are detailed and fully explained in the Times' investigation.
At the bottom of the website, Newpoint offered an apology, which did not acknowledge Windsor Prep and East Windsor's closing:
Our hearts go out to the families affected by this situation. We know this is stressful for you and we sincerely hope that with Newpoint out of the picture, the Pinellas County School Board will allow your school to stay open.
Neither Quinlan nor May responded to requests for comment for this blog.
Newpoint updated its website this week to include this: At this time, we are not responding to media inquiries. The media continue to contact us for additional information, but historically, they have not included any information that is not helpful to their damaging story. We have, however, posted information below so you can form your own opinion.
Newpoint no longer manages any schools in Florida. Two Duval schools are trying to reboot their image after being the last of a total of 15 schools statewide to separate from Newpoint.