The Akron Beacon-Joirnal reports on a multi-state charter scandal.
“The founder of an Akron-area charter school company is accused of using thousands of dollars parents paid for student lunches and uniforms and millions more from Ohio and Florida taxpayers to fund home mortgages, plastic surgery, extensive world travel, credit card debt and more.
“Criminal charges filed last week in Florida against Marcus May also allege he improperly used private and public funds earmarked for students’ education to expand his charter school empire in Columbus, Akron, Cleveland and Dayton.
“Florida State Attorney William “Bill” Eddins brought the charges of racketeering and organized fraud against May, the founder of Newpoint Education Partners and Cambridge Education, a Fairlawn company that manages about 20 charter schools in Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Akron, Youngstown, Canton and Cleveland.
“In a prepared statement provided to the Beacon Journal on Friday, Cambridge Executive Director John Stack said: “My co-owners and I asked for and today accepted Mr. May’s resignation as managing member of Cambridge. We are now in discussions to remove him completely from ownership in the company because we feel it’s in the best interest of our schools.
“Despite this distraction, my colleagues at Cambridge and I will continue to focus on our core mission and the students we serve as we have always done.”
“Cincinnati businessman Steven Kunkemoeller also was charged in the First Judiciary Circuit, a regional court in Florida. Kunkemoeller is a longtime business partner of May, according to a Beacon Journal/Ohio.com report from December and a multi-state investigation that included help from the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office.
“Kunkemoeller was arrested Wednesday in Florida. May’s attorney has reportedly talked with authorities there. Neither man could be reached for comment.
“The Florida prosecutor alleges that the men fabricated invoices, embellished enrollment, misappropriated public funds and created an elaborate network of limited liability companies in order to bilk the federal and state governments, as well as parents and students.
“In Akron, where Cambridge manages Towpath Trail High School, Middlebury Academy and Colonial Prep Academy, school board members are taking caution but not jumping to conclusions.
“We are keeping a close eye on it and discussing alternatives if they are needed,” said Ron McDaniel, president of Towpath Trail High School. “But we need to be responsible and not make snap decisions. Our schools are running well and run responsibly. We verify things better than the Florida schools did from what I understand.”
“The mark up
“School and business records obtained by the Beacon Journal and detailed by a forensic accountant working on the case show that May and Kunkemoeller marked up the price of services and supplies provided to the charter schools they managed in Ohio and Florida, sometimes more than doubling the cost of school uniforms, desks, computers, chairs and website design.
“Florida investigators questioned the vendors who sold the goods and could find “no apparent business reason” for the mark ups. May and Stack, Cambridge’s executive director, have said that the schools pay more upfront for more flexible financing terms.
“Items listed on invoices, from iPads to furniture, could not be found when Florida investigators swept schools for evidence of how public dollar were spent…
“Property and bank records reviewed by investigators showed May and his wife, Mary May, purchased a Florida home soon after “rebate” payments began. In 2014, two payments of $175,000 were applied to Kunkemoeller’s mortgage and the May’s home equity line of credit. Investigators traced the money to a laundry list of other non-public expenses, including $381,631 for credit cards, $207,415 for Marcus May and his family, $52,388 for a homeowner’s association fees (including swimming pool services), $4,735 taken as cash, personal loans to other people, a $10,000 jet ski from Barney’s Motorcycle Sales in St. Petersburg, $5,000 to the Fairlawn Country Club, $11,000 for plastic surgery and additional money for trips to Amsterdam, the British Virgin Islands, Brussels, Cancun, China, France, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Japan, Los Cabos, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Italy.”
Florida officials are investigating; Ohio officials don’t seem to care.
The story goes on to detail massive fraud, double-billing, and other misappropriation of public money.
When will the mainstream media report this story? We know that Betsy DeVos won’t care. As long as parents are choosing these schools, why worry about the money?
from sarah http://ift.tt/2s2uoAK