Police: Charter school committed grand theft

Broward County School Board closes Ivy Academy

By Bob Norman - Investigative Reporter , Ben Candea

LAUDERDALE LAKES, Fla. - Police allege a charter school in Lauderdale Lakes committed grand theft after investigators say its owner inflated the number of students who attended to receive more public funding.

Police executed a search warrant at Ivy Academy last week, alleging the charter school -- owned by Trayvon Mitchell -- owes the school board $240,000 after inflating its number of students from 43 to 94.

"The public should be outraged," Broward School Board member Robin Bartleman said during a meeting.

"We have to find some way to stop this abuse," added fellow board member Rosalind Osgood.

"If you care about our children, you can't have this kind of situation continue," said Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie.

The school board also killed its contract with the charter school last week after learning it had moved students from place to place and failed to pay its teachers, including Sahily Johnson.

"This school has received almost half a million dollars but they couldn't pay me my check and they couldn't buy me a board and they couldn't supply our supplies for my kids that need that so badly," she said.

According to the search warrant, Ivy Academy spent the first three weeks of the school year at the Signature Grand, then bounced a $20,000 check when it moved.

"We're not going to continue to allow our kids to be abused in this way by people who want to make money at the expense of sacrificing our children's educations," said Osgood.

Osgood added that eight charter schools in Broward County went belly up last year.

"They have to be held accountable for the tax dollars that no one knows where they are," said Bartleman.

Attempts to reach Mitchell and his attorney, Pam Kane, weren't successful Monday.

No charges have been filed in the case.

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