UPDATE-- The Palm Beach County School Board has filed a complaint for declaratory judgment and supplemental relief against Eagle Arts Academy, Inc.
The District says what this means is that it is asking the court to hold the public funds allotted to the charter in escrow until termination proceedings are concluded.
The District made a check payable to the Clerk of Court for $254,644.98 along with the complaint for the court to hold the money in the court registry.
Per the District's CEO Mike Burke, "It is important to note this disputed July payment reflects funding for students to be served in the upcoming 2018-19 school year. Eagle Arts Academy was paid in full for the past 2017-18 school year with the final June payment. School districts and charter schools follow a July 1 to June 30 fiscal year. Should the charter be terminated or fail to serve students for any reason, these funds would never be earned. Requesting the Court to hold on to these funds while the legal process is completed is a prudent request to safeguard tax payer dollars."
WELLINGTON, Fla. -- The Executive Director of Eagle Arts Academy has notified teachers and staff at the school that the charter did not receive July funds from the district and the school does not have money to pay them.
Greg Blount said his attorney is seeking legal action against the school district which has a charter agreement with Eagles Arts Academy that expires June 30, 2019.
Before the end of the 2017-2018 school year, the district notified the charter it would be shut down in 90 days unless it could get its financial house in order. The charter has an appeals hearing set for August 9 and 10. However, it still owes money to its landlord.
Blount said there are current negotiations going on with the landlord to settle the charter’s financial obligations. It is still unclear for many parents who expect to have children enrolled for the 2018-2019 school year if the school will be open. Blount said he expects to have more information by the end of the week.
One parent who did not want to be identified to protect her son said she pulled him from the school after the last day of the academic school year.
"It was heartbreaking for me," said the mom. "I wanted to do what was best for my child."
She said Eagle Arts Academy was the best thing that happened to her son. He was bullied at his previous charter school.
"Eagle Arts was able to bring him out of his shell," she said. "I live in West Palm Beach, like central West Palm Beach, to come out here it was a hike but I saw the benefit. I saw how he was progressing."
But then word broke about the financial issues at the school, teachers not being paid on time, and the school district's decision to shut the charter down. Even with an appeal hearing set for next month, the parent said she had to make a decision.
"I didn’t want to set myself up for failure. I didn’t want to set him up for failure," she said.
She said finding another free arts charter school that could take her son has already been somewhat challenging. One "A" rated school she was looking at said he would be put on a waitlist. She fears other parents may still be holding onto hope that the school will open its doors next year and then have fewer options for their children.
"I believe that a lot of parents are in limbo," she said.