Appeals Court Upholds Conviction of Pensacola Charter School Operator for Misusing $750,000 in State Education Funds


Another inconvenient reminder for Florida’s charter school cheerleaders comes in this story from the Pensacola News-Journal:

The First District Court of Appeal has denied a Pensacola businessman’s appeal of his 2010 conviction on money laundering and racketeering charges.

John Wyche was sentenced in 2011 to serve more than six years in prison for defrauding a charter school.

The appeals court didn’t issue an opinion. “They as a whole, as a group, affirmed the judgment and decision of the trial court,” Assistant State Attorney Russ Edgar said Monday.

Wyche was the director of the Life Skills Center, a charter school for underprivileged children, and the Escambia County Community Land Trust, an affordable housing program.

A jury found Wyche guilty of misusing more than $750,000 in state education money, housing grants and loans meant for the charter school to sustain the failing Maison de Ville apartment complex. The apartments were purchased by the land trust.

O.J. Rembert, the former chief financial officer of the land trust and charter school, was sentenced to a year in county jail for his role in helping Wyche skim money from both organizations.

Florida’s legislature had the opportunity to tighten rules on charter schools during the last session yet spent its time attempting to create more opportunities for operators like Wyche with a reckless parent trigger bill. In addition they attempted to force local school districts to increase the amount of money they gave charter schools, even if they do not have the same expenses or provide the same services as do public schools. It remains to be seen how much longer Florida’s taxpayers will allow such willful blindness to continue.

About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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