Students, taxpayers lose in poorly run charter - 2012-04-06
With its finances in disarray and its students at a daily risk of falling behind, the ineptly administered and bankrupt Life Force Arts and Technology Academy charter school in Dunedin has become a community embarrassment that cannot be shut down soon enough. It should serve as a clarion call to Florida lawmakers to tighten up oversight of privately run schools that receive public money.
Parents from Clearwater's low-income North Greenwood neighborhood had enrolled their children in the kindergarten-through-fourth grade school on the promise that students would receive a good education and specialized classes in the arts and computer training. Instead, students were subjected to a curriculum with ties to the Church of Scientology, while administrators apparently padded their pockets and doled out sweetheart contracts to cronies.
As the Tampa Bay Times' Drew Harwell reported, while classrooms lacked basic supplies, recently sacked school manager Hanan Islam paid her own management company $70,000 between August 2011 and January of this year. Islam also spent nearly $3,000 on a mystery California accountant only known as "Pauline," who has never been seen at the school. And $30,000 of the school's $800,000 in public money was spent with Islam's World Literacy Crusade, a group that promotes Scientology's "study tech."