Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Warren not the only ex-FAMU trustee connected to a charter school financial controversy

Cleve Warren was in the news last week when the Florida Times-Union reported that Duval County Public Schools found what it considers to be big financial problems at four charter schools run by a company that he chairs.

Warren served on the FAMU Board of Trustees (BOT) from 2012 to 2016 and was its chairman when the Florida Board of Governors declined to reappoint him. He isn’t the only former FAMU trustee who’s been part of a charter school financial controversy.  

Broward County Public Schools recently cited major financial accountability problems at the Obama Academy for Boys and Red Shoe Charter School for Girls, two charter schools that were founded by Corey Alston. Alston served as a FAMU trustee in 2006.

According to a 2015 article in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel: “The Obama Academy and Red Shoe signed a voluntary termination agreement last spring. The district had been trying to shut them down for months following three years of financial and academic problems, violations of state law and breaches of contract with the district, records show.”

The article also stated that: “A recent State Auditor General report found the jointly owned schools could not verify their enrollments for the 2013-14 school year and therefore the state is owed $729,000. The district expects to be on the hook for another $1.1 million because the school also failed to keep proper enrollment records this past school year, said Patrick Reilly, chief auditor for Broward schools.”

Back in 2013 and 2014, Alston faced a number of legal problems connected to his tenure as city manager of South Bay, Fla. He was sentenced to serve five years on probation (with the first six months on house arrest) and to complete 100 hours of community service that year after he pleaded guilty to a felony grand theft charge and one misdemeanor count of corrupt misuse of an official position. He was also ordered to pay $48,000 in restitution. Alston won’t have a felony conviction on his record because the judge withheld adjudication.

On September 28, 2015, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office booked Alston for a probation violation charge. He was released about 24 days later.

Alston was the chairman of the FAMU Foundation, Inc. when he was arrested for the initial grant theft charge Palm Beach County in 2013. He stepped down from that position at FAMU later that year, but his name remained on the list of board members for months afterward.

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