Pensacola, Florida
Saturday December 16th 2017

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Outtakes—Tip of the Iceberg?

By Rick Outzen

County Commissioner Jeff Bergosh was pleased to see that charges of racketeering and organized fraud had been filed against the owner of Newpoint Education Partners, Marcus May. However, he believes that the charges are only the “tip of the iceberg.”

Bergosh has called for a federal investigation into whether School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas covered up the alleged improprieties at the Newpoint charter schools.

“The whistleblower had been calling and emailing for a year with student safety issues, financial irregularity issues, grade tampering issues, and the superintendent and his staff purposely did not tell the school board,” he said on “Pensacola Speaks” on Monday.

In March 2015, the whistleblower contacted Bergosh, a school board member at the time, after she became concerned that Thomas was not going to do anything. Bergosh and the whistleblower contacted me.

The former school board member said that at least three district employees told him that Superintendent Thomas ordered them to not inform the school board of the complaints.

“They were told, ‘Do not tell the school board.’ They were admonished when they tried to put it in the report,” Bergosh said.

“Meanwhile every quarter, the board was receiving reports that frankly were not accurate,” he told Inweekly. “The place was falling apart, student safety was jeopardized, financial irregularities were taking place, and all the while we were left in the dark on purpose.”

Bergosh said that when he told Thomas that he was taking the complaints to State Attorney Bill Eddins, the superintendent got “mad as a snake.”

He said, “He came out from behind his desk, he wanted to come after me. He was so upset; I could see the veins popping out of his neck. He told me, ‘Don’t do it, you’re making a mistake. We haven’t done anything; this is all Newpoint.’”

Bergosh replied, “You know what? No, I’m going. I’m going on Monday; I’m going to testify. You want to come, you go ahead, but I’m going.’ He did not want me talking about it, didn’t want me doing anything.”

Now that the charges have been filed against Marcus May, Bergosh is concerned that Thomas may have misled the state attorney’s office as to the district’s failings in the matter.

“You’ve got employees who work for the superintendent who tried to do the right thing and tell the board, and they were told not to,” he said.

Bergosh wants the federal government to investigate why Thomas didn’t act earlier.

He said, “Today is a good start, Rick, but there’s a lot more meat on this turkey leg.”

He may be right. There could be more meat on the drumstick.