"Life Force teachers, principal struggle to figure out charter school's finances." Tampa Bay Times (FL), 4/6/2012
DUNEDIN — After the Life Force Arts and Technology Academy's embattled director of operations said she was leaving for a new job, principal Lenor Johnson discovered a problem: Passwords to the charter school's bank accounts had been changed and she couldn't access them.
Johnson had asked Vikki Williams, the outgoing operations director, for help learning the books. But when they sat down together, Williams couldn't explain why the accounts and the school's QuickBooks accounting software suddenly couldn't be accessed.
"Huh. Someone changed the password," Johnson recalled Williams saying. "At that point, I knew it was a game."...
DUNEDIN — Parents and teachers at the Life Force Arts and Technology Academy shouted down charter school leaders on Saturday for deceit and mismanagement they say has led to the school's demise.
A dozen parents and faculty members, including the principal, slammed the school's former management company at a meeting of the board of directors. They alleged questionable spending, suspect leadership and the sly introduction of Scientology study methods...
But the school that Art of Management leader Hanan Islam pledged she would rescue from bankruptcy remains troubled and deeply in debt. Parents worry the school's dramatic last days and their children's sudden move could cause their education to suffer.
Steve Hayes, a longtime Scientology attorney representing the school's board, told the group the school's Chapter 11 bankruptcy is set to end early next month. Without that protection, creditors could aggressively seek repayment of $400,000 in debt...
Teachers and volunteers said their devotion to the children trumped their desire for pay. Board chairman Louis Muhammad and members Annie Tyrell and Fatima Talbird voted unanimously to keep the school open.
Class will stay in session without Islam, the executive director of the Scientology-tied World Literacy Crusade, who ended her management of Life Force this month.
Perhaps the strongest criticism of Islam's management came in a letter from principal Lenor Johnson, who wrote that decisions by school leaders "were made solely for the personal gain of outside interests."
Islam demanded hundreds of books on "study technology," a methodology devised by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, be purchased from the Church of Scientology at the school's expense, Johnson wrote. A rewrite of the school's charter led by Islam cost $18,000, and failed. Her company hired unqualified employees, implemented unapproved techniques in the classroom, held secret meetings with teachers and pressured faculty to write letters supporting her company's management.
"The education of our young children (was) compromised for personal gain, greed and the need to control others," Johnson wrote. "The re-opening of our school was nothing more than a business venture."
Teachers also slammed Muhammad, a Nation of Islam minister, alleging he served as a mouthpiece of Hanan Islam. Muhammad said he was hired by Islam in July as a "public relations consultant" but fired in October after he pushed a boy on the school bus. The boy was uninjured, and Muhammad said it was a light shove to bring the unruly boy in line. Hanan Islam appointed him to be board chairman in January...
DUNEDIN — One Friday afternoon in December, leaders of a tax-funded elementary school called Life Force Arts and Technology Academy shepherded students into a Scientology church in Tampa's Ybor Square.
The children were fed candy and pizza, given Scientology books and DVDs, and shown a performance of a play written by Scientology's late founder, L. Ron Hubbard. Some posed for photos with Santa Claus in front of a silver Scientology cross.
It was, as Life Force leaders had promised, a Christmas party, the school's first since a small Clearwater company called Art of Management had been hired to reorganize the school as it filed for bankruptcy.
Though company president Hanan Islam was also executive director of the World Literacy Crusade, a California organization that promotes Scientology study methods, she had reassured parents then that her group would "not push any religion" at the school.
But as Life Force parents stood in one of Scientology's newest churches, dedicated last year by Scientology's worldwide leader, David Miscavige, some felt their trust had been betrayed.
Some parents and former teachers at Life Force, which receives about $800,000 a year in public funding, say the Pinellas County charter school has become a Scientology recruiting post targeting children.
Opened to serve a low-income Clearwater neighborhood and advertising classes in computers and modern dance, Life Force had begun pushing Hubbard's "study technology," which critics call a Trojan horse Scientology uses to infiltrate public classrooms.
And while Life Force students and teachers worked in poorly stocked classrooms and teachers went unpaid, the bankrupt school funneled tens of thousands of dollars more to Islam's business interests than she told the bankruptcy court she would charge...
“Pinellas charter school reaches out to Scientology for help.” St. Petersburg Times (FL), 7/30/2011
CLEARWATER — Looking for a savior, a North Pinellas charter school that has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy has asked for help from the director of a group affiliated with Scientology.
Life Force Arts and Technology Academy, which caters to low-income children from Clearwater's North Greenwood neighborhood, filed paperwork in federal court July 25 showing it is $250,000 in debt...
To help the school recover, [Maurice Mickens, the school's former chairman and a current board member] turned to Hanan Islam, executive director of the World Literacy Crusade. The group promotes the use of study techniques developed by L. Ron Hubbard, the late founder of the Church of Scientology.[*]
Islam is from Los Angeles, though she has been staying in Clearwater for about eight months, and is an owner of a local company called Art of Management Inc., described on a website as specializing in management services for speakers, artists and authors.[**]
Islam said Mickens approached her earlier because the school needed help. She said she immediately saw what the problems were and gave Mickens a written report. She said he didn't follow her advice.
Now, she said, "We are coming to reorganize it and save the school. We want to make sure the church is taken care of and staff are paid. The priority is rent, staff and taxes. Our only job is to help save it, turn it around. There are no intentions of taking over the school.
"This is what we do," Islam said. "We set up programs in churches and schools all over the world."
Mickens makes no apologies for reaching out to Islam's group and to Scientology...
Mickens said he is not a Scientologist, but a Baptist church deacon. Scientology can provide "some techniques and stuff for reading that has worked very well," he said...
In April, Life Force Arts and Technology Academy fired its principal, Martie Woodie, after she was arrested in Manatee County on a charge of exploitation of the elderly. Authorities said Woodie stole at least $16,000 from a trust designated to pay her 77-year-old adoptive mother's health care expenses, using the money to, among other things, take a cruise.
That same month, Pinellas County school officials sent a stern letter to the head of the school's governing board because the school's financial reports showed its expenses had exceeded budget for three months...
Life Force Arts and Technology Academy opened with the intent of mixing ballet, hip-hop, modern dance, singing, theater and computers with a traditional educational curriculum. The school serves kindergarten through fourth-graders.
The school was founded by Jai Hinson, who in 1991 founded the Life Force Cultural Arts Academy, which has its origins in the Dundu Dole Urban African Ballet.
Hinson said about a year and half ago, she separated from the school and no longer has ties to it. Though they still share a similar name, she said her cultural arts academy has nothing to do with the charter school.
"I was very disappointed," Hinson said of the school's decline. "My 20-year legacy of work, and this was an offshoot. The management was not good. All I can say is that I'm very disappointed."
“Clearwater Charter School is Told It Must Fix Its Finances or Close.” St. Petersburg Times (FL), 4/29/2011
Pinellas County school officials issued an ultimatum Thursday to the operators of the Life Force Arts and Technology Academy charter school: fix your finances or shut down…
The letter came after the firing of principal Martie Woodie this week by the school's governing board. The board learned that she had been arrested in Manatee County on a charge of exploitation of the elderly. Authorities say Woodie stole at least $16,000 from a trust designated to pay her 77-year-old adoptive mother's health care expenses, using the money to, among other things, rent a car and take a cruise.
Life Force board chairman Maurice Mickens said Woodie's arrest was a surprise but that board members had been concerned about her management of the school…
Pinellas school district assistant superintendent Kevin Smith said the district has been watching a steady decline in Life Force's financial health for several months. The school's financial reports show that its expenses have exceeded budgeted amounts for three months…
* Mickens has had previous connections with Scientology. Excerpt from “Harlem Nights Jazz.” Tampa Bay Magazine, Nov/Dec 2009
“The chairman, Maurice Mickens, and his co-chair Pat Harney, the public affairs director of the Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization, planned the evening.”
- Wikipedia entry about “Applied Scholastics” @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Applied_Scholastics
- Official Applied Scholastics Web site: http://www.appliedscholastics.org/
- Critical analysis of Applied Scholastics:“Applied Scholastics Exposed” by Project Chanology Anonymous AND studytech.org @ http://studytech.org/
“WLC has been criticized for being a deceptive marketing tool intended to get Scientology programs into schools without disclosing its close ties with the Church of Scientology.”
Two of America’s better known UFO-friendly religions, Scientology and the black nationalist Nation of Islam (NOI), now have more in common than unusual theologies involving intergalactic spaceships. For about a year, NOI leader Louis Farrakhan has been telling his followers to embrace Scientology in order to move closer to perfection in preparation for the end times.
According to a May 31 article in Final Call, NOI’s newspaper, nearly 700 NOI members have become Certified Hubbard Dianetics Auditors, and more will soon be trained in Church of Scientology (COS) techniques “to prepare better servants and saviours of the people by helping to clear up their minds and lives.” COS “auditors” supposedly help people ascend to higher levels of consciousness.
Although both the Nation of Islam and Scientology embrace extraterrestrial theories as well as self-improvement programs aimed at lifting members to higher and higher levels, they nevertheless make for extremely surprising partners. NOI is a racist hate group that holds that white people are intrinsically, biologically evil — “blue-eyed devils,” in the group’s parlance. Scientology’s followers, who include several well-known celebrities and other wealthy people, are overwhelmingly white (although membership is open to all) and its founder reportedly was a racist who long defended South African apartheid...
Though Farrakhan has only recently started talking about it publicly and with such great enthusiasm, NOI and the COS have worked together for years. According to Marty Rathbun, once a high-ranking official within COS and now a well-known “independent Scientologist” who has been chronicling the NOI-COS entente on his blog, Farrakhan was introduced to Scientology in the late 1990s by the late Isaac Hayes. Hayes was the international spokesman for the World Literacy Crusade, a Scientology-backed literacy program developed in the early 1990s by Alfreddie Johnson, a Compton-based Baptist minister. By the middle of the 2000s, NOI was training members in the methods used by both the World Literacy Crusade and Scientology’s drug addiction treatment program, Narconon. In 2006, Farrakhan was among four black clerics honored at COS’s “Ebony Awakening” awards...