Family Foundations Academy Off Probation Status

Yesterday, at the State Board of Education meeting in Dover, it was announced Family Foundations Academy met the conditions of their six month probation and are now released from that status.  Jennifer Nagourney with the Delaware Charter School Office did tell the state board that “we continue to be concerned about all the things we need to be concerned about and we are taking a heightened look at board governance and financial management.”

Family Foundations Academy terminated their former heads of school last winter after it was revealed they embezzled funds from the schools through use of procurement cards and other cards in the school’s name.  As a result, the school went on formal review during their charter school renewal process.  In March, the State Board put the school on probation when they emerged out of formal review status.  Members of the board from EastSide Charter School joined the remaining FFA board, and EastSide’s Director, Dr. Lamont Browne, took over as school leader for FFA.

The school was approved for a major modification to move into the former Reach Academy for Girls building, and will transition their middle school to the other portion of those buildings next year.  They were also approved for an alternate educator evaluation system, separate from the DPAS-II system.  If I had to guess, I would assume they joined the Delaware Charter Collaborative, comprised of EastSide, Prestige Academy, Kuumba Academy, and Thomas Edison Charter School.  But this has not been confirmed.

The last remaining business from the controversy caused by the former leaders will come in the form of the Delaware State Auditor’s report on the investigative audit that began last December.  The school’s forensic auditor determined Sean Moore and Dr. Tennell Brewington absconded approximately $90,000 in school funds, but what the State Auditor’s office finds is up in the air and until the report is released.

Thomas Edison Charter School DEFINITELY Under Investigation By State Auditor

As I trolled through charter school minutes throughout the day, in-between working on another project, and reading with my son, I got to the last one, Thomas Edison Charter School.  Lo and behold, Thomas Edison is under investigation by the Delaware State Auditor.  While it doesn’t give specifics and why they are being investigated, their July 2015 board minutes give no illusion about this matter.  I first reported this in the Spring, and some folks said I am reading too much into it.  Thank you, I know the difference between an investigative audit and a regular audit.

State Audit Update

Auditors are coming to the school during the week of 07/27/15 to begin the audit.  The auditors are requesting the Board meeting be moved back one week to allow them to meet State deadlines and to report findings to the Board.  The Board did not have an objection to the request.

Back in May, the State Auditor’s office revealed during a House Education Committee meeting on House Bill 186 that seven Delaware charters were under investigation, and they were not light matters.  We already knew about Family Foundations Academy and Academy of Dover.  I soon found out, once again based on board minutes, that Providence Creek Academy was another.  And then in June, I discovered two possible other schools: Thomas Edison and Odyssey Charter School.  The State Auditor’s office isn’t able to verify this information.  While I still haven’t been able to confirm Odyssey, Thomas Edison is definitely number four.  The first three were for financial abuse, involving procurement (purchase) cards and actually opening accounts under the school’s name for personal use.  What has Thomas Edison done to incur this inspection?  I’m sure we will find out soon enough.

Once again, what is the DOE doing about this?  I have yet to hear of any action being taken on Providence Creek Academy and Thomas Edison, even though it is now public knowledge.  Both Academy of Dover and FFA were put on formal review in part due to these kinds of things.  And who are the other three charters?  The wheels on the bus go round and round…

To read the actual board minutes from Thomas Edison’s July meeting, look below:

Family Foundations Academy: Where Is The Investigative Audit? Are They Still On Probation?

Family Foundations Academy, a Delaware charter school in New Castle, DE, formally requested an end to their six-month probation.  But their investigative audit may come out at the same time.  Last December, Delawareans were treated to a month long ordeal surrounding Family Foundations Academy.  During the school’s charter renewal, allegations came out against the co-leaders of the school for financial mismanagement.  It was also revealed the State Auditor’s office was going to investigate the school’s finances. By the end of the month, Sean Moore and Dr. Tennell Brewington were out, and the board was radically changed in the first month of the year as members of EastSide Charter School took over.

The State Board renewed their charter but put FFA on formal review.  In March, the State Board put the school on probation for six months.  This will end later this month if the State Board agrees to it.  But in the meantime, while on probation, the school submitted and was approved for a major modification concerning the location of their elementary and middle schools.  And the Auditor’s report hasn’t even come out yet.  When can we expect this?  Given the timing for Academy of Dover’s similar situation, I would say sometime in the next month to month and a half.  It took the State Auditor’s office about ten months to complete their investigation on Academy of Dover, and that report came out on 6/24/15.  The State Auditor opened their investigation into FFA sometime in December, 2014, so we should expect the report this month or next month given the same trajectory.

Has FFA satisfied the terms of their probation?  That will be up to the State Board of Education to decide, but the school seems to think so if you read the below letter.  A frequent commenter on this blog raises a very serious question though about overall board membership at Delaware charter schools: Should board members reside in Delaware?  This is mandatory for traditional school boards since they go through the election process.  I would think it would be in our best interests to have the same for charter schools.