BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- A records request uncovers that Baker Mitchell, founder of Roger Bacon Academy (RBA) in Leland, is making millions of dollars running local charter schools.
Mitchell founded RBA in 2000, hiring Mark Cramer as his headmaster. Multiple sources tell us Baker recently fired Cramer after 13 years together.
Charter schools get most of their funding from state and local tax dollars. In 2012, documents show that Brunswick County Schools paid Mitchell $4.1 million. That included 16% of the RBA's revenue that went towards management fees, more than $600,000 for "staff development and supervision," and other costs like rent.
Baker owns the land Charter Day School and RBA sit on through a group called the "Coastal Habitat Conservancy," according to county documents. Tax records report Baker received almost a million dollars to rent the land back to himself. "Coastal Habitat Conservancy" also is reported to own most of the equipment and buildings / trailers the school uses to educate students. That equipment is also rented and the money is paid back to Baker.
Tax records also show Mitchell got $3 million of $8 million in gross receipts collected by RBA and Charter Day School in 2010. Baker refuses to turn over any financial records regarding how much he pays himself, staff and teachers. Under state law, he is not required to since RBA is a private entity.
Brunswick County schools claim each student be educated by RBA is costing it $2,464 per student on the local level and $4,692 from potential state funding - a total of $7,156 per pupil. An attorney for RBA counters that the cost is more like $3,300.
We called the RBA offices Wednesday to try to talk with Baker. We were hung up on twice by his assistant, Jill Applewhite.
We will continue to investigate this story and will have updates over the coming days.