MORE

McKay Scholarship: The Fraud Hall of Shame

If you ask us, a private school that's been busted defrauding the state of scholarship money for disabled kids probably doesn't deserve a second chance. It most likely wasn't the finest institution of learning anyway.

The state clearly doesn't agree.

Yesterday, we published a feature story, "Rotten to the Core", that detailed the blissful lack of oversight private schools enjoy while accepting funds from Florida's McKay Scholarship program.

Due to very little proactive investigation, most fraudulent McKay schools are probably getting away with it. But the Department of Education has proven that 25 schools engaged in financial fraud, plus one where the owner was discovered to be a felon using a frontwoman.

According to our unscientific survey-- using websites and corporation records as a guide-- at least eleven of them are still in business.

Here are the fraudsters, along with how much money they've accepted from the program. If this blog post came up when you were Googling a prospective school for your child, we would suggest you keep looking.

1. Florida Christian Institute for Academic Excellence

County: Lee

McKay cash received: $6.8 million

Fraud: Collected money for student who was no longer enrolled, apparent signature forgery

Still around: No

2. Leadership Academy

County: Broward

McKay cash: $6.5 million

Fraud: Payments for at least ten students who didn't go to the school, more forgery, no proper school building, staffers with criminal records

Still around: No

3. Agape Christian Academy

County: Orange

McKay cash: $5 million

Fraud: Summer school payments for students who didn't attend summer school

Still around: Yes

4. Aukela Christian Military Academy

County: Broward

McKay cash: $4.9 million

Fraud: Payments for at least ten students who didn't go to the school, more forgery

Still around: Yes

5. Success Academy

County: Duval

McKay cash: $4.8 million

Fraud: Payments for at least 52 students who actually went to public school

Still around: Yes

6. Academy High School

County: Broward

McKay cash: $3.7 million

Fraud: Payments for at least 13 students who didn't go to the school, forgery

Still around: No

7. Hope Academy

County: Miami-Dade

McKay cash: $2.8 million

Fraud: Staffers with criminal records including grand theft, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and the sale of marijuana

Still around: Yes

8. Center of Life Academy

County: Miami-Dade

McKay cash: $2.2 million

Fraud: Payments for students who were no longer at the school, forgery

Still around: Yes

9. CHC Private Schools 1

County: Brevard

McKay cash: $2 million

Fraud: Report purged

Still around: No

10. Choice Preparatory School

County: Miami-Dade

McKay cash: $1.6 million

Fraud: Payments for students no longer at school

Still around: Yes

11. Solid Rock Community School

County: Pinellas

McKay cash: $1.5 million

Fraud: Getting people other than parents to sign McKay information without parents' consent

Still around: Yes

12. New Jerusalem Christian Academy

County: Putnam

McKay cash: $1.5 million

Fraud: Purged

Still around: No

13. Heritage Academy

County: Leon

McKay cash: $753k

Fraud: Purged

Still around: Unknown

14. Paladin Academy

County: Miami-Dade

McKay cash: $1 million

Fraud: Cashing McKay checks without parent signatures

Still around: No, but its parent company, Pennsylvania-based Nobel Learning Communities, is still kicking.

15. Community Learning Institute

County: Gadsden

McKay cash: $893k

Fraud: Payments for students who were incarcerated or otherwise no longer at the school

Still around: Yes

16. Muskateer's Academy

County: Miami-Dade

McKay cash: $794k

Fraud: Stole students' McKay information from other schools, used it to falsely enroll them at Muskateer's

Still around: No

17. Heritage Christian Academy

County: Putnam

McKay cash: $349k

Fraud: Accepting funds for tutoring and group therapy, despite not providing those services

Still around: Yes

18. Wesley Chapel Christian School

County: Pasco

McKay cash: $490k

Fraud: Payments for at least ten students who didn't go to the school, more forgery

Still around: Unknown

19. Alfie's Center For Performing Arts

County: Duval

McKay cash: $344k

Fraud: Purged

Still around: No

20. Academy of Dreams

County: Hillsborough

McKay cash: $312k

Fraud: Owner, who had criminal record including kidnapping and witness tampering, used frontwoman to register school

Still around: No

21. Dre's Playhouse Exceptional Academy

County: Taylor

McKay cash: $268k

Fraud: Payments for students who didn't go to the school, payments received even after school was closed

Still around: No

22. Harvest Christian Academy

County: Hillsborough

McKay cash: $206k

Fraud: Payments for a students who didn't go to school. Owner was already incarcerated in federal prison for a $3 million bank fraud scheme

Still around: No

23. Palm Harbor Preparatory

County: Pinellas

McKay cash: $174k

Fraud: Payments for a student who didn't go to the school. Owner pled guilty to grand theft, served probation and paid restitution

Still around: Yes

24. Academic High School

County: Palm Beach

McKay cash: $138k

Fraud: Purged

Still around: Yes

25. Capital City Preparatory School

County: Leon

McKay cash: $73k

Fraud: Receiving McKay payments without getting parent signatures

Still around: No

26. Cyber Tech Academy

County: Duval

McKay cash: $54k

Fraud: Didn't physically exist

Still around: No

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.


Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >