Eagle Arts Charter in Chaos But OPEN in Palm Beach

For over two years, this scandal drags on in one of Palm Beach’s largest charter schools.  Now the school is in complete chaos.  Principals come and go within weeks of each other.  One third of the teachers have left. Books do not arrive.  The owner of the school has legal issues.  He charged the school for preparing the proposal to open the school.  He also has a combative personality.

When parents complained, he attacked.  He called the sheriff claiming a parent hacked into his computer system.  Why?  The parent had organized an online petition to clean up the school’s management problems.  Over two hundred families left the school.  He recruited more with glossy ads emphasizing an arts infused curriculum.  The much heralded dance program had no teacher.  Children wanting to play instruments had to pay extra for after school lessons.

Some children love the carefree atmosphere, but their test scores have plummeted.  The school grade is down to a ‘D’.  Forty percent of the students passed the State’s English Language Arts test and 24% passed the math.  This is not a low income school, yet it is near the bottom in academic achievement.

Who is to blame for this fiasco?  The district is investigating, but the charter school law does not give them authority to clean up the mess until serious criminal charges or total academic failure are evident.  Self dealing is evidently still allowed.

Parents are told they can leave; that is their only recourse.  The State of Florida does not intervene.  After all, even though charters are ‘public schools’, they are run by private businesses.  If a businessman wants to run the school into the ground, he can.

I watched a similar situation occur in Gainesville.  Watching was all I could do.  Half the parents and most teachers left.  The school district shook their heads.  The school is still open.  The only thing public in charter schools is the money funding them.

This is the direction the Florida legislature is headed.  If we want it stopped, they need to know.  Tell them over and over again.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Achievement, Charter School Management, Charter Schools, Florida, Funding.

2 Comments

  1. I don’t understand why parents didn’t see this coming? I went and toured the school and left not impressed at all. Where are the parent’s standards in regards to their kids education? During the tour the arts were much talked about, and it was very exciting. Then, when it came time to talk about science and math it was literarlly “here is the classroom, here is the lab”. I asked about the curriculum and part of the answer was, “we are not a fine arts school” and “we are not a regular school and our focus is the arts”. How can your sole focus be the arts when the school is an elementary school and children need to learn math, science, linguistics, and history to be able to make it to middle and high school? All art colleges require their students have good academics as well, therefore, why will an elementary school be any diferent and have lower standards?

  2. The following is a highlight of Andrew Marra’s investigation of the Eagle Arts Academy for the Palm Beach Post, as far back as July 9, 2015 and most recently May 13, 2017:

    Eagle Arts Academy in Wellington, PB County opened August 2014 with the grand notion of establishing a splendid performing arts school on a par with Dreyfoos School of Arts and Bak Middle School of Arts in PB County. The only problem, the curriculum expert, Liz Knowles, a longtime educator and former administrator at the private Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale saw the hand writing on the wall and bailed out taking her draft of the school’s new curriculum with her.

    Gregory James Blount, the school founder, said he became interested in starting a charter after emerging from personal bankruptcy in 2010 and operating a small business that gave acting and modeling classes. With those qualifications and no education background, Blount arranged for his company to receive a contract to create the school’s art-infused curriculum.

    When is an art school not an art school. Perhaps when there are no musical instruments to play or the dance studio becomes an exorcise room. Who said there is a need for text books, having fun is all that matters. Grades do not matter, parents and students will be happy as long as everyone is assured of at least getting a “C”. The only problem is when the student transfers to another school and math, reading, and science levels are two grades behind.

    So the real question is, are the people in Florida’s education agency’s, elected school board members, the district’s charter school office and parent and teacher association falling down on the job? Or are they not getting the support they need to demand greater accountability for charter schools from our state legislators.

    With Pat an Sue heading up a state wide coalition of LWV education committees throughout Florida, we will be speaking directly to each member of the state legislature regarding the privatization of our traditional public school system. The only way change can happen is in the courts, U.S. Congress, and state legislatures.

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