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Palm Beach County won't bail out financially-strapped Eagle Arts Academy in Wellington

Posted at 4:48 PM, Apr 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-05 06:47:56-04

The Palm Beach County School District said it will not go outside of its charter agreement to bail out a financially strapped charter school.

Teachers at Eagle Arts Academy in Wellington have not been paid since March 15 and now parents fear the school will shut down before the end of the school year. 

Lenore Scarpati is struggling with a decision hundreds of parents at Eagle Arts Academy fear making. 

"To pull my daughter now. If God forbid, I don't even, when we heard the school might close I had no idea why, I thought it was just because of enrollment," said Scarpati. 

The Palm Beach County School District put Eagle Arts Academy Charter in Wellington on a 90-day termination notice, saying the school has mismanaged its funds and overstated its revenues and understated its expenses. 

Documents from the school district say lease payments and payments to school vendors have not been made since September 2017, but "the school founder, Gregory Blount and other currently known related parties continue to be paid each month with annual payments estimated to exceed $205,778." 

The District letter also says that in addition, "Mr. Blount is the sole owner and director of Element Management Group, Inc. that was incorporated July 12, 2017. This company was paid from July through October 2017, approximately $6,000 per month for "brand licensing" which was reduced in November 2017 to approximately $3,700 per month." 

The School does not have money right now to pay its teachers and the school district said it will not go outside of its charter agreement to advance funds allocated for April. 

Scarpati and other parents fear it's only a matter of time before the teachers stop showing up to work. 

"It's terrible. Nobody wants to go to work every day and at the end of the week not collect a paycheck," said Scarpati. 

"They try their best to stay for the kids, but you still have to pay your own bills." 

Two principals quit the school at a board meeting on Monday and released this statement:

Mrs. Stacey Taggart and Dr. Copeland are disappointed and heartbroken to see Eagle Arts Academy in the current position it finds itself in today.  We both believed in the vision of EAA.  We have worked tirelessly day and night to make sure the best interest of the students and staff were the highest priority. The decision to resign was very difficult and not done lightly, we felt it important as leaders to make the public aware of the issue of non-payment of wages and the impact it has had on staff.

At the end of the day, we felt it was in the best interest of the students, staff and ourselves to make sure everyone had a complete picture before committing to the “hope” that any future funds would be available.  We have both been made aware through published budgets, financial reports and information presented at the Palm Beach County School District Board meeting; that EAA is experiencing a dire financial situation. Neither of us were signers on any of the bank accounts. It is our understanding that payroll has not been met for any employee and we understand that may continue to be the case in the future.  We feel we have no alternative but resign.

We wish the very best for all of the students, parents and staff at Eagle Arts Academy. 

Mrs. Stacey Taggart

Dr. Paul Copeland 

Another teacher has confirmed she also resigned from the school Wednesday. 

Teachers have told WPTV that they are receiving emails from parents who are withdrawing their children from the school. 

Blount has also attributed the financial issues to a decrease in enrollment from the 2016-2017 school year to the current academic year. 

We tried to reach Blount by phone and email Wednesday but did not receive a response.