NewsSarasota, Manatee County

Actions

Hearing will decide future of troubled Manatee County charter school

Posted at 8:19 PM, Aug 26, 2019

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The future of Lincoln Memorial Academy will be decided by a judge this week.

The school board took control of the charter school last month and now the academy says it was done unfairly.

"The evidence we will put forth in this hearing tells a story of broken promises, unacceptable risks, and a lack of trust," said Erin Jackson an attorney for the school district.

In opening statements, Jackson gave many reasons why the school board voted to take control of Lincoln Memorial Academy abruptly, last month.

And in that abrupt action, Lincoln Memorial Academy representatives say the takeover was unjust.

"They breached the contract, your honor. By not allowing them the 30 days that the contract requires," said LMA representative Christopher Norwood.

Lincoln Memorial Academy has had many challenges since becoming a charter school last year, including its principal Eddie Hundley being stripped of his education certificate after giving a referral to a teacher who was being investigated for possessing child pornography.

They’re also accused by the school board of having major financial issues from not paying teachers to not paying the water bill.

"It is a financial meltdown and that pertains to the health, safety, and welfare of students," said School Board general counsel Mitchell Teitelbaum, during testimony.

LMA is arguing that the school board, who sponsored the charter school, held money back from them.

School board attorneys accuse LMA administration of not cooperating. In her opening statement, Jackson said more than 300 documents were deleted by school staff and LMA administration pleaded the fifth during deposition.

But parents and community members who support the LMA, claim the school board is targeting the mostly minority school.

"We want the truth to be exposed. We were so glad that the Dept. of Education came in to invesitgate so they could see how the school board was treating the school and holding back finances that should’ve been given over to the school," said Arthur Huggins, an LMA supporter.

The judge expects the hearing to last about three days, then will decide if the School Board terminated the charter school properly.