NewsSarasota, Manatee County


Missing records among judge's concerns in charter school termination hearing

Posted at 10:25 PM, Aug 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-27 22:25:12-04

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Student safety is the reason the Manatee County School Board says they had no other choice to but to take control of Lincoln Memorial Academy.

This week, an administrative judge is hearing from both sides to determine if the takeover was just.

"There were no dates on the products. Everything has to be dated," said Regina Thoma, Food and Nutrition Services Director for Manatee County Schools.

Alarming photos of food being stored improperly were taken from inside the cafeteria at Lincoln Memorial Academy just days after the school district took over in late July.

"There were some raw products stored that were not covered and things like that could cause cross-contamination," said Thoma.

The district says this, along with LMA's problems with school security and finances, are some of the reasons they had no other choice but to do an immediate takeover.

But LMA representatives claim the takeover was done illegally by not giving the school a 30-day notice to fix the problems like what is written in their contract with the district.

The school district, on the other hand, claims they tried working with the school for months before the termination but the school refused to produce documents.

Administrative Law Judge Robert Cohen became frustrated in court this afternoon over the missing records.

I just can’t believe a school that I know is full of computers and record keeping and has a CEO and CFO and HR person, that there are no records. There has to be records, and if there are no records the inferences I make is that the records have been destroyed or hidden," said Cohen.

But LMA representatives say their access to digital records was discontinued after the district took over and late July.

More information about the missing records is expected to be answered in court Wednesday.