The Academy of Dover is not listed as a 501c3 corporation with the Internal Revenue Service. The Academy of Dover’s charter, which firmly states they are a 501c3 non-profit corporation, is not real. The Delaware Department of Education put the charter school under formal review last year. This was their fourth formal review in 12 years. This did not come up at all during that process. As well, their auditor, Barbacane, Thornton, & Company LLP, wrote about this in the last three years of audits they did for the school.
For the past three years, their auditor made note of this in their yearly audit of the school. Each year provides a link to the full audit:
And yet, for all three years, it states the exact same thing. Ironically, the link for their 2012 audit, which may have shed some light on this situation, comes up as a blank pdf file.
How has this never been publicly disclosed until now? Actually, it was disclosed a few years ago but it was buried in a comment section on Kilroy’s Delaware. It was during July of 2013, which as any blogger can tell you isn’t exactly a big audience at that time of the year. Especially an education blog! But a commenter wrote exactly what I am telling you now but no one picked up the baton and ran with it.
But this tells me this information has been out there for a while now. I would have a very hard time believing nobody at the Delaware DOE knew this. I’m sure they read the annual audits. But the fact these audits say the exact same thing three years in a row is astonishing. With the school involved in a $2 million dollar lawsuit as well as former Head of School Noel Rodriguez’ personal theft of school funds, how does this not come up at all? Who is reading these audits at the DOE?
The oversight for Delaware DOE authorized charters falls on the DOE. It was right in front of them the whole time and I have never seen it publicly questioned. It never came up in their formal review meetings last spring. I know this because I attended all the meetings. Transparency and this school have never been the best of friends. But this… the DOE needs to act. Their 501c3 status was revoked over four years ago. They have been operating in the dark for over four years. Granted, they could be trying to work things out with the IRS. But if they aren’t a 501c3, even though they are still listed as such with the Delaware Department of Corporations…
And if anyone is wondering why charters need more oversight, this is exactly why. Avi at Newsworks wrote an excellent article today about more charters under investigation in Delaware, including ones that were already under past investigations. I’m just going to come right out and say Senate Bill 171 would give us more of what we have: fraud, lies, and auditors copying and pasting the same information year after year. House Bill 186 would allow information, like what I am writing now, the ability to be seen. Who knows what other skeletons are buried out there in Delaware charters?
One last thought…charter schools are required by the State of Delaware, in Title 14, paragraph 509, that they must have their IRS Tax Form 990 on their website. Academy of Dover has not had this on their website since at least 2008 since the IRS said they hadn’t posted a return the last three years in 2011. So we have a law and nobody is making sure this even happens? Hello Jack Markell… this is transparency calling… your DOE has a lot of explaining to do. But let’s get Academy of Dover taken care of first. They have been out of compliance with their approved charter for over four years. It’s time the DOE and the non-elected State Board of Education make a real decision instead of “probation” four times…