Caleb McCusker: Palmetto Youth Academy still using taxpayer money despite being closed
Part of the idea of charter schools is that when they fail to live up to their charter agreement. But what happens if they just refuse to shut down–and keep using taxpayer dollars? News13 in Florence, South Carolina has such a story.
Florence 1 Schools is alleging that Palmetto Youth Academy Charter School is operating illegally, and the superintendent has sent letters to public officials including South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and Attorney General Alan Wilson.
The charter school, which Florence 1 Schools board members voted not to renew the certification for in May, has “continued to operate utilizing millions of taxpayer dollars under a company called Palmetto Youth Services,” according to a news release from the school district.
In a recent affidavit asking the court to issue an order, Florence 1 Schools Superintendent Richard O’Malley said that the school was terminated on June 30, according to the release.
“The school board issued its order denying the charter renewal and effectively closed the school on May 18. That decision effectively terminated the school on June 30,” O’Malley said in the release. “Nevertheless, on July 31, I learned that PYA was apparently open this year and enrolling students.”
O’Malley said the charter school is currently operating under no authority as the South Carolina Department of Education closed the school via a letter on Aug. 1. However, Michelle McBride, a district administrator, visited the school on Aug. 1 and confirmed that it was still open.
“PYA is operating, apparently using a fund balance that belongs to Florence 1 taxpayers and assets including buildings and land valued at over millions of dollars and may have amounts owed to the South Carolina and Federal governments,” O’Malley said in the release.