By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—In Count 10 of the 23 Felony charges of public corruption against Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, he stands accused of receiving a thing(s) of value from a lobbyist, subordinate of a lobbyist, or principal of Edgenuity, Inc. and/or E2020, through his business interest Auburn Network.
This indictment indicates that Hubbard received money from the company, but how much and for what services is not made clear. In the case of SEAGD, Hubbard had a $12,000 a month “consulting contract,” so it may be that he had a similar arrangement with Edgenuity, Inc.
According to the company website, Edgenuity, Inc., “…is a research-based video course curriculum, which offers more than 185 semester-equivalent core and elective online courses for students, grades 6-12.” (See website here.)
The programs they provide can be used at home or in the classroom, according to the companies published material.
Formerly known as e2020 or Education2020, the company was founded in 1998 by a group of Michigan educators. The company relocated to Scottsdale, AZ., in March 2000 and was acquired by the investment firm, Weld North Education, LLC, for an estimated $50 million in July 2011.
The private equity firm Weld North is lead by former chief executive of Kaplan Inc., Jonathan N. Grayer. It was formed in 2010 with funding from buyout firm, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., according to the companies website. (See article here.)
According to the New Your Times, “Private equity firms have been eager to jump into the $8 billion market for education technology, an industry that has drawn investments from the likes of Providence Equity Partners and Bain Capital. Media conglomerates like News Corporation and Bertelsmann are also pouring money into the education technology business.” (See article here.)
Weld North is becoming a big player in the for-profit education business with the acquisition of Imagine Learning and Truenorthlogic in 2014 for an estimated $150,000.
In Alabama, Edgenuity, Inc., efforts are lead by Ellie Gantt, according to her profile on the School Superintendents of Alabama website. (See website here.)
Edgenuity, Inc., is a Gold sponsor of the School Superintendents of Alabama organization.
It is not clear what activities Hubbard proofread for the company, but according to the Grand Jury indictments it violated Section 36-25-5.1(a) of the Code of Alabama, which forbids legislators from receiving, “Any gift, benefit, favor, service, gratuity, tickets or passes to an entertainment, social or sporting event, unsecured loan, other than those loans and forbearances made in the ordinary course of business, reward, promise of future employment, or honoraria or other item of monetary value.”
Edgenuity, Inc., Ellie Gantt and the Alabama Department of Education were contacted for this report. Calls to Edgenuity, Inc., and Gantt were not returned at the time of publication.