COLUMBIA — Compass Academy has severed itself from Jonathan “Jay” Brooks and his companies so the school can move forward with its vision to open the school in eight weeks.
At a hearing Tuesday, Brooks, Compass and the Securities Division of the Attorney General's office agreed for receivers to be placed in charge of all the assets frozen by the Attorney General's office as part of accusations that Brooks illegally sold illegal securities and converted some of these funds to his use.
The separation comes with Jay Brooks' former attorney Stan Jackson now only representing Compass Academy, while Brooks has retained North Augusta attorney James Huff.
“The TRO (temporary restraining order) currently in place will be continued with no set termination date,” Huff said to the court. “Mr. Brooks has also agreed to remove himself from any dealings with Compass Academy.”
Brooks, who has denied any wrongdoing in the case, and Huff said the split was made in order for the school to focus on opening its doors and remove any negativity Brooks may have brought to the educational enterprise.
“This school must go ahead, and must open,” Brooks stated passionately after the hearing.
“With all the media coverage, there is a taint that we are trying to take away from the school so it can move forward,” Huff said.
In the hearing, it was revealed that around 80 students have enrolled with partial tuition paid, and more than 100 are further interested in the facility.
“There are some disgruntled lenders, but the majority are not,” said Gerald W. Rowe, co-chair of the Compass Academy Management Group and proposed receiver. “We've taken quite a hornet's nest of investors and explained what is to be done, what has been done, timetable. We are eight weeks away from being open ... and a ribbon cutting.”
Rowe was very positive about the school and talked highly of the work being done and the prospects of the school.
“There's going to be students walking in the door day one. Revenue will be generated from day one. And it's the only way we can get our money out of it,” he said.
He added that the school needs about another $2 million to be finished.
Speaking after the hearing, Tracey Brooks, Jay's wife, said “people think I know everything Jay was doing. I don't.”
Stan Jackson, who now will serve solely as the attorney for Compass Academy, added afterward that Tracey Brooks, head of administration at Compass, and her husband did not discuss business at home. He said this was not an admission of any knowledge of wrongdoing by Jay Brooks, just a statement that the couple separated work and private life.
Tracey Brooks sat at the defense table for the hearing, representing Compass.
The receiver being appointed will be formally discussed at another hearing next week, but Jackson presented two individuals as his preferred candidates on Tuesday.
Rowe, 67, originally of New York and now a resident of Aiken, was the first person whose qualifications were offered. Roe, who currently is the co-chair of the Compass Academy Management Group and has $115,000 invested in the project, spent his working life in all aspects of the construction industry. He stated that he was very confident in the school project and would be willing to invest $40,000 more of his own money in the school.
Secondly, Melanie L. Oldham, CPA, JD, was presented. Oldham said she had been a CPA with Kenneth Leventhal & Co., a prestigious California-based financial firm, before earning her law degree and going into practice. Oldham now resides in Aiken.
The Attorney General's office's representatives reserved cross-examining the pair until the formal hearing on the receivers.
Editor's note: This version of this story has been updated to correct the name of Gerald W. Rowe. The Aiken Standard regrets the error.