Former Director of Shuttered Gates Backed Non-Profit Decries Media Reporting

It would seem that NC New Schools’ former Director, Tony Habit, feels that the press hasn’t been accurately reporting on the closure of the Bill Gates backed non-profit according to an editorial he has penned at the News and Observer.

The ‘highlights’ text from the article reiterates the opening paragraph:

“Regarding the June 12 news article “After New Schools’ collapse, financial questions emerge”: The News & Observer has appropriately reported on the closure of NC New Schools. Because the organization benefited from the trust and investment by foundations, corporations and government, the public should expect accountability. Unfortunately, the series of articles written about NC New Schools has not accurately reported key facts.”

Habit refutes the News and Observer’s reporting and states that NC New Schools was not paying rent simultaneously on two office spaces.

Habit says about the rental spaces that NC New Schools, “structured a deal that allowed us to move into the new facility rent-free for eight months; the cost per square foot in our new office was nearly 15 percent less than the former office.”

Habit also says that funds and grants weren’t misused in any way and then proceeds to throw the finance department under the bus, blaming mismanagement and “rapid” personnel growth.

Interestingly,  Habit mentions accountability. For the past two months, I’ve been trying to get accountability from the General Assembly with regards to NC New School’s role as it pertains to the Education & Workforce Innovation Act (HB 902).  NC New Schools was to administer the program.

I emailed both Rep. Craig Horn and Rep. Langdon, the only remaining sponsors of the Education & Workforce Innovation Act. Neither of their offices has responded to multiple inquiries about recouping grants and monies given to NC New Schools.

The eleven Education & Workforce Innovation commission members are:

  • John Skvarla, Secretary of Commerce
  • June Atkinson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Bill Cobey, Chairman, State Board of Education
  • Tom Ross, President, University of North Carolina System
  • Scott Ralls, President, North Carolina Community College System
  • Governor’s Office appointees: Billie Redmond, CEO, TradeMark Properties, Commission Chair, Rod Webb, Senior Vice President and Raleigh City Executive, NewBridge Bank
  • House of Representatives appointees: Judy Irwin, Vice President, Human Resources, Golden Corral, Clifton Vann, President, Livingston & Haven
  • Senate appointees: Robin Comer, County Commissioner, Carteret County, Michael Martini, HR Manager, Ball Corporation

According to the committee’s 2014-15 report, 11 grants were given out totaling $1.34 million dollars. According to the report, the grants went to the following school districts:

  1.  Beaufort County Schools – $800,000
  2.  Buncombe County Schools – $800,000
  3.  Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools – $800,000
  4.  Chatham, Harnett, and Lee County Schools – $800,000
  5.  Davidson County, Lexington City, and Thomasville City Schools – Yadkin Valley Regional Career Academy – $350,000
  6.  Duplin County Schools – $800,000 7. Durham Public Schools – $800,000
  7.  Granville, Franklin, Vance, and Warren Counties – $800,000
  8.  Rutherford County Schools – $800,000
  9.  Surry County Schools – $800,000
  10.  Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools – Kennedy High School – $350,000


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About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a freelance journalist and is currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_
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