A former FGCU instructor and her husband from Estero, owners of a Florida teacher certification exam preparation company, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets.
Court documents reflected that since January 2016, Kathleen M. Jasper, 42, and Jeremy M. Jasper, 40, certified Florida teachers, stole content and conspired with others to steal content from the Florida Teacher Certification Exams and the Florida Educational Leadership Exam. They included the stolen content in the test preparation materials and services that were sold through their business, NavaEd.
Kathleen Jasper, on the company website, lists herself as the company founder; “I started the company in 2017 around the time I was working in the college of education at Florida Gulf Coast University.”
She also lists herself as having been a substitute teacher and then a professionally certified high school biology and reading teacher.
“I had worked in the classroom for 3 years when I got an opportunity to work at the district office,” her bio on the company website said.
Biographical information on Jeremy Jasper lists him as vice president of Jasper Consulting.
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Both previously worked for the Lee County school district at Estero High School, where Kathleen served as assistant principal from 2012-14.
The couple previously entered not guilty pleas during their first appearance in December at the federal courthouse in Tallahassee and said they were innocent in a post shared to NavaEd’s Facebook page.
NavaEd offered tutoring and training to prepare prospective Florida educators to pass the FTCE and the FELE. Passage of these exams are required for certification in Florida.
NavaEd offered training publications through its website and through third-party e-commerce websites such as Amazon and Shopify.
Court documents said the couple took the FTCE and FELE multiple times – after having already passed the exams – to see and memorizeexam questions.
Court documents also said the Jaspers directed NavaEd employees and independent contractors to take the FTCE and FELE to harvest exam questions and answers.
The Jaspers and NavaEd customers shared the stolen test content with one another through email, phone, video conferencing and messaging applications. The Jaspers republished the stolen FTCE and FELE test content — verbatim and almost verbatim — into NavaEd publications written to prepare future Florida teachers and school administrators for the certification exams.
These publications and other NavaEd FTCE and FELE preparation materials were disseminated and used during NavaEd training seminars and tutoring sessions.
The Jaspers will be sentenced Nov. 15 at the U.S. Northern District Court in Tallahassee before the Judge Allen Winsor. They face potential maximum penalties of 20 years in prison for RICO conspiracy and 10 years in prison for conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets.
From 2020: Read the Kathleen and Jeremy Jasper indictment
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the United States Department of Education – Office of Inspector General, and the Florida Department of Education, with assistance by Pearson VUE, investigated the case.
Pearson VUE is the company with whom the Florida Department of Education contracted to administer and provide test security for, the FTCE and FELE.
The Jaspers were once employees of the Lee County school district, reports spokesperson Rob Spicker.
Kathleen Jasper, 42, was hired in August 2007 at Estero High School, where she worked as a reading and science teacher. She then joined the district office in June 2011 to work as a master teacher in the curriculum department, before returning to Estero in March 2012 as an assistant principal, Spicker reported.
She resigned due to personal reasons in February 2014.
Jeremy Jasper, 40, was hired in August 2010 at Estero High, where he worked as an Exceptional Student Education teacher. In 2015, he was named the school’s “Family and Consumer Science” teacher.
He resigned for personal reasons in June 2018.
The Lee County school district began working with NavaEd during the 2017-18 school year, reports Angela Pruitt, the school system’s chief of human resources. She said few resources were available to help people prepare for the state’s certification tests at the time.
“NavaEd provided teachers training in preparation for the general knowledge test, subject area exam(s) and the professional education test,” Pruitt explained in an email. “The workshops were delivered in-person and, when the pandemic hit, the workshops transitioned to online delivery.”
Connect with breaking news reporter Michael Braun: MichaelBraunNP (Facebook), @MichaelBraunNP (Twitter) or email@example.com.
This story includes information pulled from News-Press archives.