ST. PETERSBURG, FL (WFLA) – One of three remaining board members of the financially troubled Windsor Preparatory Academy in St.Petersburg has resigned. Barbara Walker sent her resignation to Windsor Prep Board Chairman Robert Pergolizzi Wednesday at 12:52 p.m.
In a brief email to Pergolizzi, Clark wrote:
“Due to the unanticipated changes at the schools, resulting in an increased time commitment that would be required of me in order to be a knowledgeable and involved member of the Windsor Boards. My work schedule does not allow me the amount of time that would be needed to serve in the best interest of the schools and regrettably I herein submit my resignation effective today.”
Clark runs her own accounting firm in St. Petersburg and her resignation comes amid great turmoil over Windsor’s finances and investigations by the Pinellas School District and the Florida Department of Education.
The District wants to know why Windsor Prep is running a $1 million deficit and how it spent $300,000 in consulting fees along with six other questions involving finances, teacher turnover and other pressing issues. The school district gave Windsor until Friday to answer those questions after citing the school for being in a “deteriorating financial” situation.
On Tuesday, the day before Clark resigned, Windsor Prep’s professional management company Newpoint Education Partners announced it was quitting management of Windsor and three other financially troubled charter schools in Pinellas after being acquired by a North Carolina-based nonprofit company Alliance Education Services which will now assume responsibility.
Alliance’s top managers, Chief Operating Officer Justin Matthews, and Chief Academic Office Jennifer Lucas were supposed to hold a “meet and greet” session with Windsor Prep parents in the school cafeteria early Friday morning but cancelled late Thursday after many parents had made plans to attend.
“What they wanted to do is not be a distraction,” said Windsor Prep Principal Veronica Fly. “We’re trying to focus on preparation for FSA testing.”
Fly says Mathews and Lucas will meet with parents at a much-anticipated charter school board meeting next Thursday at 5:15 p.m.
Neither Matthews nor Lucas responded to numerous telephone and email messages left by 8 On Your Side. Their company, Alliance, boasts prior management success with five other charter schools, including Lutz Preparatory Academy in Pasco County.
But when 8 On Your Side checked, Lutz Prep insisted it is not under Alliance management. Bradford Preparatory Academy, another school linked and listed on Alliance’s website under “OUR SCHOOLS,” told 8 On Your Side it has never heard of the company. The third school, Mallard Creek STEM Academy, is not operating yet. Only two of the five charter schools in Florida and North Carolina Alliance claims to currently manage, confirm that company is in charge.
Friday, Fly insisted she has no idea which charter schools are currently managed by Alliance and has not researched the company since the acquisition was announced by Newpoint Tuesday. Fly says Mathews and Lucas will be present next week to meet with parents and staff at the next board meeting and invited 8 On Your Side to attend.
“They will answer any allegations and concerns that the public has,” Fly said.