TAMPA - In a meeting that last only 16 minutes, the Hillsborough County school board voted 5-0 in favor of terminating the charter contract with financially struggling A. T. Jones Academy.
None of the charter school's board members showed up to the meeting, but five teachers and one parent did.
"This did not go how I wanted," said Monnie So, who is searching along with eight other teachers to find new positions.
Dr. Arthur T. Jones, former chair of A. T. Jones Academy, wrote in a letter dated July 30, 2012 to Hillsborough County Superintendent MaryEllen Elia, notifying her no one in an official capacity would be present at the public hearing because parents had been advised the school would not open its doors this year.
Without proper funding to hold classes, Jones states, "Although every penny of revenue received by the Academy has been spent solely on eligible operational expenses, staff did not have the capacity to maintain the same level of report development and timely submittal upon which we mutually agreed."
Under Florida law, charter schools must submit financial reports to their sponsors, monthly. A. T. Jones stopped submitting their financial reports in March. District leaders did send the board letters to comply but received no response.
Jones claims the Board is taking the following steps to come into compliance:
So far, not one of the eight teacher in attendance at Monday's meeting has seen any reimbursement for money deducted out of their paychecks that never went toward health insurance. Board members terminated teacher's health insurance twice without informing them.
Monnie So, like most others, are owed almost $9,000 stemming from deductions. There are also outstanding medical bills the teachers are paying out-of-pocket.
"I don't think I will ever get my money back," said So.
Hillsborough County School Board Char Candy Olson said the school board cannot do anything to ensure the teachers get their money back.
"We really have no further responsibility," explained Olson. "I am sure we will go back and look as a warning to other schools, so they can monitor and manage better. But again, we don't have the authority and we have very limited staff. So, I don't think it will be a huge, exhaustive study.
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