Bradenton Herald: Florida failing to hold private schools accountable, even with state money

November 29, 2012- Several confounding questions surround yet another alarming situation at a private school owned by a man whose financial track record can only be described as wanting at best. The Prep Academy is now the fourth school owned by Hendrik Lamprecht to fall into deep trouble, though its exact status remains hazy.

Prep's former principal, Theresa Kern, exposed the dire situation in a detailed article by Herald education reporter Katy Bergen last week. Incredibly, Kern often had to produce copies of textbook pages because classrooms lacked books.

Yet parents paid a $250 book fee, never saw textbooks in classroom, and their children never came home with any.

Kern and other teachers did not receive paychecks for months — just like employees at other Lamprecht schools.

In the latest lawsuit against Lamprecht, the property owner of the building that housed The Prep Academy is seeking more than $57,000 in back rent and damages. Lamprecht has not paid rent since March, the civil action states, and the building owner wants the school evicted.

This case follows several other lawsuits against Lamprecht. A dozen former teachers claim he owes them more than $200,000 in unpaid salaries.

In the past two years, Lamprecht operated three other private schools in Manatee County, and all closed over foreclosure, insufficient funds or other misfortunes. The Bradenton Prep, The Prep Learning Academy and New Path Academy all disappeared.

Now The Prep Academy is distressed. The school opened in July 2011 with state approval to receive taxpayer money in the form of McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities. That's easy money since state monitoring is almost nonexistent and private schools enjoy most control by simply filing compliance forms.

The Prep Academy accepted the first quarterly payments of at least one student's $14,000 scholarship and another's $11,000 scholarship. Fewer than 10 of the school's 50 students receive McKay money. Statewide, the program paid out an average of about $6,850 per scholarship this school year.


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