Former charter school executive director indicted for theft, records show

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A former Memphis charter school executive has been indicted for theft.

Dr. Tamika Carwell-Richmond is charged with two counts of Theft over $2,500, two counts of Forgery over $2,500, and one count of forgery under $2,500.

Carwell-Richmond is the former Executive Director of the Legacy Leadership Academy charter school in Memphis, Tennessee.

Legacy Leadership Academy served students in grades six through eight. It was only open for the 2017-2018 school year. The academy closed in August 2018.

An investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office determined that Carwell-Richmond stole at least $4,594.72.

Investigators said most of the money ($3,313.68) was withdrawn from the academy’s bank account. They could not verify the cash was used for a purpose related to the academy, and no documentation was provided.

According to a release, Carwell-Richmond stole the remainder of the money ($1,281.04) after falsifying invoices she submitted to the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) for reimbursement. The invoices were related to furniture the academy was leasing. Investigators said Carwell-Richmond inflated the amounts on the phony invoices to make it appear the school had paid more for the furniture than it actually did.

Carwell-Richmond is also accused of forging a business owner’s signature on a letter in order to create documentation for a large sign that was purchased by the school. The letter was submitted to TDOE as her proof of payment for the school’s sign.

According to a release, Carwell-Richmond also admitted to Comptroller investigators that she did not follow grant requirements associated with a $261,000.75 federal grant awarded to the academy to assist with planning, implementation, and start-up costs. The academy still owes TDOE $126,755.33, which served as the pass-through entity for this grant.

On May 6, 2021, the Shelby County Grand Jury indicted Tamika Carwell-Richmond on two counts of Theft over $2,500, two counts of Forgery over $2,500, and one count of forgery under $2,500

“This case highlights the importance of oversight,” said Comptroller Jason Mumpower. “The Board of Directors for the charter school should have established adequate internal controls over the financial processes within the academy. For example, the executive director had sole access to the academy’s bank account for a period of time. This weakness can lead to fraudulent activity.”