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Peter Greene: The Tawdry Story Behind the Latest Florida Charter Scam

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I recently posted a story about Eagle Arts Academy Charter School in Palm Beach, Florida, which seemed to be in chaos. There was financial mismanagement, constant turnover, and multiple snafus.

Peter Greene dug deeper and exposed the back story. He calls it “Florida Charter Scam: Part 23,174.”

He writes:

“Gregory James Blount was a 40-ish-year-old former model and events producer who was working his way out of bankruptcy by teaching modeling and acting classes when he decided that getting into the charter school biz seemed like a fine career move. He recruited Liz Knowles, a teacher and private school chief, to run the school and write his “Artademics” curriculum. But Knowles walked away from Blount soon after (final straw– discovering he had created a Artademics company to cash in). Knowles recalled Blount’s argument for her to stay. “Don’t worry, :Liz. You’ll be rich.”

“The Eagle Arts Academy opened up, and Blount was cashing in. What’s repeatedly impressive about these scam schools is that even people with no education experience or even successful business experience can still figure out how to make big money at this game. Blount was no exception.

“The technique is familiar. The non-profit school hires other companies, and that’s where you make your money. Blount set up a business that he called a “foundation,” though it was not registered as one. The foundation sold uniforms to students at hefty prices, and that money went to Blount. Blount’s company also ran a profitable after-school tutoring program on school grounds, rent free. And when Knowles walked away from writing the school’s curriculum, Blount set up a company to do that; the school paid him for that as well– even though the curriculum was both late. A third company charged the school for consulting services as well.

“The Eagles Arts charter did include a clause saying that no board members of the school could profit directly or indirectly. Blount apparently got around that by simply resigning from the board during the periods that he was making money through his companies.

“So, does this story end with Blount disgraced and in handcuffs?”

No, he is opening for a second year in August.

The wonderful world of school choice, brought to you by Jeb Bush and Betsy DeVos.

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