From Palm Beach Post reporter Jason Schultz:
PALM SPRINGS —
A Palm Beach County charter school got nearly $160,000 more in state education money than it was entitled to receive after overstating 2011-12 enrollment, a draft audit released last week by the school district’s inspector general claims.
According to the draft audit from Inspector General Lung Chiu, Mavericks High School in Palm Springs counted and was given funds for at least 56 students who did not attend the school at all during two 11-day “survey periods” last year required by the state Department of Education. The survey periods are used to establish enrollment figures on which the department bases its per-student funding to schools.
Mavericks, a West Palm Beach-based chain of seven Florida charter schools, offers live and online classes and caters to at-risk students. It’s perhaps best known for its president and chief development officer, Frank Biden, brother of Vice President Joe Biden.
Chiu’s office began investigating the school after a former teacher — Angenora Mechato — filed a lawsuit in April alleging that Mavericks fabricates enrollment data and that she was fired for refusing to falsify records. Two teachers at the Mavericks school in Homestead have made similar allegations in lawsuits. The Miami attorney for all three teachers, Dale Morgado, could not be reached for comment.
After the Palm Beach County School District started investigating, the audit report claims, officials at Mavericks identified 14 students on May 4 they claimed a former data processor had mistakenly included in their February attendance survey. Then, on May 11, Mavericks officials said they had found another 28 students who they mistakenly included in their October 2011 attendance survey, the audit report says.
School district investigators then started probing the online class log-on records for a sampling of 224 students during the two survey periods in question, and found another 14 students who appeared to have no class activity at all during those weeks, according to the report.
The total of 56 students who should not have been counted is a troubling and not insignificant number and gives hard evidence to support at least one teacher’s claims. Hardly something that Maverick’s boss should have referred to as “baseless.”
Mavericks’ shaky history and behind-the-scenes political efforts have been covered in Scathing Purple Musings since 2011. See here for previous posts.