Palm Bay Academy Charter School


The Brevard County School Board requested a warning letter be drawn up for Palm Bay Academy Charter School after an auditor's report accused the school of having "a cavalier indifference to their financial responsibilities."

The audit, conducted in May, highlighted at least 10 major issues with the school's finances and record-keeping, including the failure to ensure that all employees and board members received proper fingerprinting and background checks…

Madhu Longani, the charter's principal, said that Thursday was the first time she'd seen the May audit, which was a follow-up on two earlier audits. After a 2008 audit raised some concerns, Longani said she hired a CPA to take over accounting. Longani said she's done everything in her power to comply with the district's requests for financial reports and other information…

Earlier this week, school board officials heard that the 2008 audit revealed 10 areas of concern including seven high-risk items. The follow-up audit, conducted by RSM McGladrey, revealed that only three of those areas had been fixed.

The audit revealed:

- Debt issued in the amount of $5.9 million in September 2006 and related activity in debt service was not recorded.

- The annual budget was not presented in accordance with government accounting standards. As of May 19, 2010, the charter's budget has not been received by the district.

- The school failed to submit the required student number estimates by deadline for four of the last five years. This is critical in calculating an accurate funding projection.

- The school did not have documents to prove that one of every five teachers tested had gone through proper background screening. Two of the four board members did not initiate their background screening until at least six months after becoming board members. According to Florida law, all school employees and board members must undergo fingerprinting and a background check.

Sending out warning letters like this isn't a new practice for the school district. In 2007, the school board closed three charters -- Explorer in West Melbourne and Osprey and Sawgrass in Rockledge-- because of alleged money mismanagement…

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