McKay Scholarship: The Fraud Hall of Shame

Categories: News

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If you ask us, a private school that's been busted defrauding the state of scholarship money for disabled kids probably doesn't deserve a second chance. It most likely wasn't the finest institution of learning anyway.

The state clearly doesn't agree.

Yesterday, we published a feature story, "Rotten to the Core", that detailed the blissful lack of oversight private schools enjoy while accepting funds from Florida's McKay Scholarship program.

Due to very little proactive investigation, most fraudulent McKay schools are probably getting away with it. But the Department of Education has proven that 25 schools engaged in financial fraud, plus one where the owner was discovered to be a felon using a frontwoman.

According to our unscientific survey-- using websites and corporation records as a guide-- at least eleven of them are still in business.

Here are the fraudsters, along with how much money they've accepted from the program. If this blog post came up when you were Googling a prospective school for your child, we would suggest you keep looking.

1. Florida Christian Institute for Academic Excellence
County: Lee
McKay cash received: $6.8 million
Fraud: Collected money for student who was no longer enrolled, apparent signature forgery
Still around: No

2. Leadership Academy
County: Broward
McKay cash: $6.5 million
Fraud: Payments for at least ten students who didn't go to the school, more forgery, no proper school building, staffers with criminal records
Still around: No

3. Agape Christian Academy
County: Orange
McKay cash: $5 million
Fraud: Summer school payments for students who didn't attend summer school
Still around: Yes

4. Aukela Christian Military Academy
County: Broward
McKay cash: $4.9 million
Fraud: Payments for at least ten students who didn't go to the school, more forgery
Still around: Yes

5. Success Academy
County: Duval
McKay cash: $4.8 million
Fraud: Payments for at least 52 students who actually went to public school
Still around: Yes

6. Academy High School
County: Broward
McKay cash: $3.7 million
Fraud: Payments for at least 13 students who didn't go to the school, forgery
Still around: No

7. Hope Academy
County: Miami-Dade
McKay cash: $2.8 million
Fraud: Staffers with criminal records including grand theft, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and the sale of marijuana
Still around: Yes

8. Center of Life Academy
County: Miami-Dade
McKay cash: $2.2 million
Fraud: Payments for students who were no longer at the school, forgery
Still around: Yes

9. CHC Private Schools 1
County: Brevard
McKay cash: $2 million
Fraud: Report purged
Still around: No

10. Choice Preparatory School
County: Miami-Dade
McKay cash: $1.6 million
Fraud: Payments for students no longer at school
Still around: Yes

11. Solid Rock Community School
County: Pinellas
McKay cash: $1.5 million
Fraud: Getting people other than parents to sign McKay information without parents' consent
Still around: Yes

12. New Jerusalem Christian Academy
County: Putnam
McKay cash: $1.5 million
Fraud: Purged
Still around: No

13. Heritage Academy
County: Leon
McKay cash: $753k
Fraud: Purged
Still around: Unknown

14. Paladin Academy
County: Miami-Dade
McKay cash: $1 million
Fraud: Cashing McKay checks without parent signatures
Still around: No, but its parent company, Pennsylvania-based Nobel Learning Communities, is still kicking.

15. Community Learning Institute
County: Gadsden
McKay cash: $893k
Fraud: Payments for students who were incarcerated or otherwise no longer at the school
Still around: Yes

16. Muskateer's Academy
County: Miami-Dade
McKay cash: $794k
Fraud: Stole students' McKay information from other schools, used it to falsely enroll them at Muskateer's
Still around: No

17. Heritage Christian Academy
County: Putnam
McKay cash: $349k
Fraud: Accepting funds for tutoring and group therapy, despite not providing those services
Still around: Yes

18. Wesley Chapel Christian School
County: Pasco
McKay cash: $490k
Fraud: Payments for at least ten students who didn't go to the school, more forgery
Still around: Unknown

19. Alfie's Center For Performing Arts
County: Duval
McKay cash: $344k
Fraud: Purged
Still around: No

20. Academy of Dreams
County: Hillsborough
McKay cash: $312k
Fraud: Owner, who had criminal record including kidnapping and witness tampering, used frontwoman to register school
Still around: No

21. Dre's Playhouse Exceptional Academy
County: Taylor
McKay cash: $268k
Fraud: Payments for students who didn't go to the school, payments received even after school was closed
Still around: No

22. Harvest Christian Academy
County: Hillsborough
McKay cash: $206k
Fraud: Payments for a students who didn't go to school. Owner was already incarcerated in federal prison for a $3 million bank fraud scheme
Still around: No

23. Palm Harbor Preparatory
County: Pinellas
McKay cash: $174k
Fraud: Payments for a student who didn't go to the school. Owner pled guilty to grand theft, served probation and paid restitution
Still around: Yes

24. Academic High School
County: Palm Beach
McKay cash: $138k
Fraud: Purged
Still around: Yes

25. Capital City Preparatory School
County: Leon
McKay cash: $73k
Fraud: Receiving McKay payments without getting parent signatures
Still around: No

26. Cyber Tech Academy
County: Duval
McKay cash: $54k
Fraud: Didn't physically exist
Still around: No

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7 comments
Marou629
Marou629

Mr. Gus, where did you get the information for this article?

Elaine Heyler
Elaine Heyler

This article is so true. I teach in public middle school and we get kids from  McKay private schools that have disabilities and after year or two in McKay school the learning gap widens 2x's, then I have to fix them. And we do.

Lpiedra523
Lpiedra523

If you have a school to add to that list  who should you contact? Hialeah, Florida

Telccomm
Telccomm

Millions in tax waste that should have gone to help families dealing with kids in need and all you are concerned with it a misspelled word!! Shame on you.

NickR
NickR

#19. Dvual -> Duval, please.

Ilovemyfamily
Ilovemyfamily

My spouse works at Florida Christian Institute in Ft.Myers. The owner/principal/athletic director/basketball coach/ accountant is behind by 5 paychecks. The employees are begging to know what is going on and he makes up excuses. We have lost the home we were renting and have lost it due to not getting paid. We lost our vehicle because he didn't pay my husband. I can't even work or afford to send my children to daycare to even find work. He is a fraud!!!! He has recently been in trouble for signing parents signatures on checks and they were all returned by the bank. He lies to parents because all he cares about is basketball. Last year the teachers hadn't been paid in months but a ups driver snuck in a package of new Nike basketball uniforms and sweatsuits. When asked how he was able to afford it he said it was donated!! His son was involved in a theft at school where he stole another teachers purse and days later he (the owner) begged the teacher not to tell on his son because he didn't want him back in jail. His students were the ones who killed an NFL star in Miami! He made excuses for them so the school wouldn't have be investigated. He purchased a new home a few months ago. There are so many things he has done it's ridiculous. I plan on going to my local news about this also! it is time this asshole is investigated!!

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