Schools
 

Woman convicted in school board bribery scheme is now director of outreach at Collegiate Academies

For the past year, a woman convicted in a bribery scheme along with her mother, a former Orleans Parish School Board member, has held a high-level job at the Collegiate Academies charter group.

Stacy Martin is paid $96,900 a year as director of community affairs and advocacy for Collegiate Academies.

She is in charge of helping the four-school charter network expand its presence in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Collegiate Academies was awarded a charter in Baton Rouge a few years ago and is opening the school this fall.

According to federal prosecutors, Martin concealed her mother’s receipt of $100,000 in bribes connected to the Orleans Parish School Board’s purchase of education software.

Collegiate Academies spokeswoman Zoey Reed said the charter group knew about Martin’s 2008 conviction. Its application does not inquire about criminal history.

Nine others applied for the job.

“Stacy is a seasoned professional and has a proven track record in building and maintaining relationships with families and communities in Louisiana,” Reed said in an email.

Before working at Collegiate, Martin was the state director for the Black Alliance for Educational Options and worked in city government, according to her resume.

“New Orleans born and raised, Stacy brings CA [Collegiate Academies] her deep knowledge of the city, its leaders, and influencers across Louisiana,” reads Martin’s biography on Collegiate Academies’ website.

In her application, Martin wrote that the job would provide “the opportunity to align my personal commitment to educating youth with an organization that is purposeful and [has] the same commitment.”

She declined to comment on her employment with Collegiate Academies.

Her mother, Ellenese Brooks-Simms, was elected to the Orleans Parish School Board in 2000. At the time, businessman Mose Jefferson had a deal with JRL Enterprises Inc. to market “I Can Learn” software, for which Jefferson received a commission.

Between 2001 and 2004, Brooks-Simms “secretly conspired” with Jefferson “to promote and approve the ‘I Can Learn’ program in exchange for a monetary ‘kickback,’” according to court documents and The Times-Picayune.

Jefferson received $900,000 in commissions for the products sold to the Orleans Parish School Board and funnelled $100,000 to Brooks-Simms “as a bribe for her role in the contract approval process,” according to court documents.

The money flowed through a variety of accounts, including her daughter’s.

According to prosecutors, Stacy Martin, who then went by her maiden name Stacy Simms, “concealed the flow” of two “illegal payoffs” to her mother for four years, starting in December 2003.

In 2008, Martin pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony. That means she knew of a crime and did not inform law enforcement. Prosecutors said she allowed “a bank account in her name to be used as a clearinghouse for bribe payments.”

Martin faced a maximum of three years in jail and a $250,000 fine. She was sentenced in 2010 to two years of probation and 40 hours of community service.

Her mother was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison, less than the recommended sentence because she served as a witness against Jefferson, according to The Times-Picayune.

Jefferson was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison; he died in a prison hospital in 2011, according to The Times-Picayune.

His brother, former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, was sentenced to 13 years for bribery in an unrelated case.

Reed said Martin’s position does not include financial management or a school credit card.

Help us report this story     Report an error    
The Lens' donors and partners may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover.