Doral school awards dubious diplomas

It began with a poster on a streetlight in downtown Miami: "High School Diploma. (305) 716-0909."

I dialed, and a chipper female voice answered, "Hello. High school."

Eight days and $399 in cash later, at the school's Doral "campus" — a cramped third-floor office next door to US Lubricant LLC and across the hall from a hair extensions company — I was grinning widely, accepting a framed diploma and an official transcript sporting a 3.41 GPA.

The degree is accepted at, among other local institutions of higher education, Miami Dade College. And it came blissfully free of that pesky annoyance suffered by thousands of local students graduating from high school this month: education.

At InterAmerican Christian Academy, my new alma mater, to earn a diploma you need only to pass five very brief and easy take-home tests. Because I can't be bothered with such things, I distributed them to local kids ages 8 to 13 to complete. Then I copied their answers.

The youngsters didn't break a sweat. "This is medium-easy," said the 8-year-old girl who completed high school English literature for me. "No problems," commented the 10-year-old who nailed math.

InterAmerican's cofounder, Manuel Morante Jr., once served a year of probation after being charged with armed robbery and resisting arrest with violence. The academy is accredited by an agency that the U.S. Department of Education does not recognize and that a watchdog site terms a "fake." But according to attendance records filed with the state, it has "enrolled" 230 students during its 17-month existence. At least 88 graduates have used its diplomas and bogus transcripts to gain admittance to Miami Dade College, according to that institution's registrar. (Florida International University is apparently pickier. It has admitted no one from InterAmerican.)

There's no telling how many of Florida's 1,713 private schools — which educate a third of a million students — are run like InterAmerican. Even as Gov. Rick Scott leads a charge to privatize education on a historic scale, our state's private schools are among the least regulated in the nation. "If a school like that exists," Cheryl Etters of the Florida Department of Education said when asked about InterAmerican and its lax standards, "we might know about it, but we can't really do anything."

The first red flag — besides the lack of a classroom — hinting that InterAmerican provides a less-than-traditional education is the selection of books lining its walls: Don't Eat This Book; James Herriot's Dog Stories; Vegetarian; San Francisco; Lee Iacocca's autobiography. Not the stuff of a typical high school library.

The academy is actually four small rooms on the third floor of a smoke-stained pink building on Doral's truck-clogged NW 36th Street. (InterAmerican has another "campus" in a Kendall office.) Romero Britto butterfly prints hang on the walls, as do the school's credentials: its registration with the Florida Department of Education — which means only that it filed minimal start-up paperwork with the state — and its certificate from Transworld Accrediting Commission International.

TACI, a California company, lists 14 PhDs among its directors but is among those on a list of "fake" agencies by watchdog site GetEducated.com. In a 1993 book, author Steve Levicoff called it an "accrediting mill." Contacted by email, the firm's president, Steve Anderson, claimed the allegations were "wrong" and said, "I have been a truth seeker and fraud fighter for many years."

I first traveled to InterAmerican's campus on a Friday afternoon. The woman in the office, who said her name was Alex, redefined the academic look in a rhinestone-studded Chanel T-shirt, Playboy-brand jeans, and sandals. She didn't speak much English and quickly put me on the phone with Manny Morante. He's listed on TACI's website as InterAmerican's secretary, but he seems to run the place.

I told him I was 28 years old and hoping to go to Miami Dade College. Manny, speaking with the chipper competence of a really good Ikea customer-service operator, was enthusiastic: "That's an excellent choice. I went to Miami Dade myself. We guarantee admission there."

I would later meet Manny, a thin, disarmingly earnest, 29-year-old Hialeah native, in person. But I already knew a bit about him from public records. In 2000, at age 18, he was charged with burglary, assault, and sexual battery on a minor. Prosecutors dropped those charges, and the case file has been mostly destroyed, but court records still indicate he was ordered to stay away from a child identified as "J.H."

Three years later, according to a police report, Manny was an "uninvited guest" at a Key Biscayne house party when he was caught rifling through a woman's purse. He picked up two beer bottles and tried to bludgeon his way out of the home. Then he led police officers on a wild foot chase through neighboring yards. Eventually he was pepper-sprayed, causing him to run face-first into a wire fence.

A judge withheld adjudication on the resulting felony charges — armed robbery and resisting an officer with violence — after he accepted two years of probation. (He was let off the hook after one year.) Before incorporating InterAmerican in January 2010, Manny briefly co-owned a Doral landscaping company. His partner in the school, and its president, is Mayankys Cabrera. A tall, officious 25-year-old, she was previously an office clerk making $2,240 a month, according to records filed in a 2007 divorce.

1
 
2
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
27 comments
154443
154443

Nike Lebron shoes andNike ZOOM LeBron new burberry replica burberry lebron 8 v2i want to look some pandora jewellery; pandora jewellery beads cheap nfl jerseys or jersey supply and religion jeans, you can leave a email to me! thank you! nike air max 2011white air maxnike griffey maxreligions jeanstrue religions jeans white nike air max,cheap griffey shoes,cheap air max 2011,Nike air max Tntrue religion jeans outletbears jersey blackhawks jerseyken griffey shoes air griffey maxken griffey jr shoesair griffey max 2lebron 8 south beach,Nike Griffey max,Nike TN 2011,Nike air max skyline,bape shoes,Adidas Shoes 2011,Air Griffey Max Fury 2012,Air Jordan High Heels,black Air Jordan Shoes,Air Jordan Wool BootsJordan CMFT Max 12Leather,cheap Jordan Sandals,Ken Griffey Jr Jerseys,Ken Griffey Shoes 2011,lebron 8 south beachNike ZOOM LeBronNike Lebron shoeslebron 8 v2Nike Air Max LeBron 8 V2Ken Griffey Shoes Womens,cheap Pandora Necklacescheap Pandora Ringscheap Pandora Setscheap Pondora Packagestiffany co outlet,pandora outletsherve leger bandage dressesmoncler down jacketmoncler doudounesmoncler coatcheap moncler jacketNike ACG Boots sale,cheap Nike Aina Chukka,Nike Air 1/2 Cent Penny,Nike Ken Griffey ShoesNike TN 2011 shoes detroit lions jerseycheap authentic jerseyscheap nfl jerseysyouth nfl jerseysnfl jerseys wholesalereligion jeans outlettrue religion storetrue religionstrue religion billytrue religion menmen Bootcut jeansmen Flare jeansmen Skinny jeansstraight leg jeantrue religion womenwomen bootcut jeanswomen Flare jeanscut off jeans shortsgirls skinny jeansstraight legs jeansnike shox shoessb dunkstrue religion joeytrue religions jeanstrue religion men jeanscheap religion jeanscheap true religion men jeanstrue religion boys jeanstrue religion billy menstrue religion cargo pantstrue religion corduroy jeanstrue religion capristrue religion joey jeanscheap religion jeanstrue religion mens skinnyTrue Religion Straight Legtrue religion womens jeanstrue religion denim jeanstrue religion denim shortstrue religion straight leg jeansTrue Religion Wide Leg skinny bootcut jeans True Religion lizzyTrue Religion joey rainbowTrue Religion casey leggingTrue Religion lone starTrue Religion stella

True Religion shirts for women

true religion brandcheap true religion jeanstrue religion brand jeanstrue religion ukmoncler vestmoncler ukmoncler women jacketsmoncler men jacketsmoncler down jacketsmoncler down coatmoncler jacketcheap moncler

thewho
thewho

My girlfriend enrolled in this academy and they called her to pick up her diploma before she even turned in her test!!!!

Jake
Jake

Good story except the part where you say "It's unclear if probation from the alleged Key Biscayne rampage violates that law." It actually clearly doesn't and the probation has nothing to do with it. By your own description, the law only prohibits convicted felons from running private schools. Your research did not turn up any convictions for the owner. A withhold of adjudication is NOT a conviction in Florida. And this is a state law. If it was a federal law, it would or wouldn't be considered a conviction depending on the particular law (according to federal case law). Thanks.

Sottoterra
Sottoterra

And Rick Scott and his Republicans anti Public School buddies want to make all schools in the state like this one?? God help us!!

momsD1
momsD1

As for the Miami-Dade degree enrollment afforded by this crooked degree, that is just par for the course with many areas of work that require certifications/degrees in Miami, the Hispanic Federation and its associations have taken control of these institution and do ensure that anyone latin is "enabled" to receive the benefit of a "certification/degree whether earned or not, in this area of life called "having an education" using fraudulent means.

This population has taken over everything virtually giving it a fraudulent slant in favor of their peoples, same as what they lived in lands they have come from. So when you go to a doctor, lawyer, judge, do business with someone of this group who supposedly possed a bonafide degree, you need to question the validity of their traings/qualifications as to whether they were bought for a fee or actually classroom earned with true learning.

momsD1
momsD1

How halirious (sp) this sounds, but very sad, that some unsuspecting at-risk high school student and their parents pays these clowns who only once again, as Hispanics, use "gray areas of government laws/rules", to unscrupulously make their paychecks at someone's loss, yet causing their failure in life in the end. These type crooks feel no pain for their victims.

And to, the boyfriend is collecting unemployment to boot...how crass.

Guest
Guest

I agree with Michael B's comment. Miami is a poster city for a 3rd world country. Mostly, we have Fidel Castro to thank for this infusion of con men and women he's been sending to us over the past 20 years. As a cuban exile of many years, I deplore the low human quality of these people whose biggest contributions to our society are scamming, cheating and lying. This is the new cuban society Castro has built over 50 years of communism and we're dealing with it now in Miami. Honest work, integrity and effort are indecent words in their sub-par, crude vocabulary. This element has brought this city to the lower echelons of society. They should all be prosecuted and sent back to Fidel.

Shona
Shona

Pathetic...but I'm so not surprised...

Jflemoine
Jflemoine

Sensational news, if it was your intention, great job! But I feel that your article is missing or doing a dis-service to the community and or M.D.C. Where is the end, I would love to see how many of these students received an A.A. degree from M.D.C. and transferred to F.I.U, or received an L.P.N. or R.N. degree? As my friend stated ,"just another gossip article"!

astrakhan
astrakhan

Considering all the pill mills we have (and which won't get punished), why should we be surprised about diploma mills?

Michael B
Michael B

God, Miami is a third world crap hole. I'm dead serious and am not even going to write anything other than, Miami is a third world crap hole.

21stcentury truth wizard
21stcentury truth wizard

I see all kinds of bogus high school "diplomas" on resumes all the time! these people then go on to "attend" one of the bogus college,beauty school, tech schools located in and around kendall, hialeah and doral! what a joke! they rip off these people who really think that a fake high school and fake college degree will allow them to do anything more then work in a autobody shop near le jeune!

Dyingbreed
Dyingbreed

Unfortunately, employers want a degree, they don't care what it is.

JJ9988
JJ9988

Yes, employers do care where the degrees come from. Unless you're applying at Walmart you ignoaramus. You must have one of those 'sucker degrees' from Kaplan College or one of the 1000's of fake Florida colleges.

Mbale473
Mbale473

In Miami, employers want you to speak fluent Spanish. Degree does not matter. I have a degree and have blasted through interviews until I get asked, "Do you speak Spanish?", then the interview goes sour and no job for me. People say learn it then! I have no motivation to learn another language and don't plan on ever leaving an English speaking country, yet, it's thrown in my face every day. People say move then! I take checks, credit cards, cash, or any form of help to move back into the United States, yet it never comes. I'm suck here in North Cuba, forever it seems.

Billete80
Billete80

You have no motivation?? If I was an employer, I wouldnt hire you on the basis of that phrase! You live in a very diverse part of Florida. Its not just "North Cuba", as you so elegantly put it. People here speak Portuguese, French, Creole, German and yes..even Spanish. You are "stuck" here because you want to be, because you dont have the "cojones" to do something about it. Dont give up on yourself, because that is the only excuse you should have written here!

ThatChick
ThatChick

WRONG AGAIN YOU TWIT!!! The majority of the people buying their fake diplomas are Central and South Americans. I should know, I used to work at one of the fake schools. I know all the hate generated toward the Cuban community is because we made Miami the City that you extra-chromosome carrying gorrillas couldn't, so go rot somewhere North of Broward.

Go have a big cup of STFU (expresso style)!!!

JJ9988
JJ9988

Yes people in Miami speak many languages. The sad part is, ENGLISH is not of them you tardnugget. Go back to Cuba if you don't like hearing Miami referred to as North Cuba. It is. And, NO it's not a compliment. Only in Miami could fake schools and colleges not only exist, but thrive. All the idiot, too stupid for real college Cubans buy their phony degrees and keep these phony schools in business.

Canes78
Canes78

Great article. Now do a story on how colleges like MDC and FIU offer online courses having no idea who is doing the work. They could be giving degrees to dead people!

f b
f b

damn, why cant i come with schemes like these... oh that's right, im not a brilliant criminal master mind. Whatever you think of the guy, you have to admit, its freaking brilliant

RachelAnnPrince
RachelAnnPrince

damn! I wish HS was this easy when I was in school! Lol but srsleh this is sad and I hope colleges do their homework b4 admitting anyone from this bogus institution!

tu zambo cheroca
tu zambo cheroca

My pet bird did better than you! He got a 3.8 gpa. I put little seeds on the correct answers so he could peck them. Now my birdie has a high school diploma. Thank you Manuel & Mayankis! Only in Hialeah! Chirp!

Haywood Jablomey
Haywood Jablomey

Why cant all the schools be like this, and save us all a ton of taxpayer dollers. Rick Scott, Where are you???

ROCKY2
ROCKY2

" UNA PEQUENA TRADUCCION AL ESPANOL"EL PRINCIPAL DE "INTERAMERICAN CHRISTIAN ACADEMY" MANUEL MORANTE JR.RECORD CRIMINAL, CONDENADO A (1) ANO DE PRISION, ROBO ARMADO, RESISTIR ARRESTO CON VIOLENCIA.MANNY EDAD (29) EN EL ANO 2000, CUANDO TENIA 18 ANOS DE EDAD FUE ACUSADO DE ROBO, ASALTO, ATAQUE SEXUAL A UN MENOR(3) ANOS MAS TARDE SE "COLO" SIN SER INVITADO EN UNA FIESTA PRIVADA EN KEY BISCAYNE, CUANDO FUE DESUBIERTO REGISTRANDO LA CARTERA DE UNA MUJER AGARRO (2) BOTELLAS DE CERVEZAS Y AMENAZO CON AGREDIR A QUIEN SE OPUSIERA A SU HUIDA DE LA CASA, FUE PERSEGUIDO POR LA POLICIA Y ARRESTADO DESPUES DE HABER SIDO ROCIADO CON PIMIENTA (pepper-spray)

JJ9988
JJ9988

Thanks for the babbelfish translation. Since most of Miami is made up of stupid Cubans, this really comes in handy.

Tom Stedham
Tom Stedham

This is a great story! Please do more journalism like this...!

Guest
Guest

THIS FAKE HIGH SCHOOL GRAD. WANTS TO REPRESENTS A PERSON WHO ATTENTED SCHOOLS SINCE THE EARLY STAGE OF THEIR LIFES UNTIL (18) YEARS OF AGE. BY PAYING $399.00 OVER A WHORTLESS PIECE OF PAPER SOLD TO THEM BY THESE SCUMBAGS CONVICTED FELONS. WHAT A SHAME !

 
Miami Concert Tickets
Loading...