Public Safety Academy (San Bernardino)




The founder and former CEO of the Public Safety Academy in San Bernardino, who was fired last year over allegations of fiscal mismanagement, is attempting to start another charter school in Apple Valley...

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“Another Safety Academy Faux Pas.” San Bernardino County Sentinel (CA), 2/26/2012 

Even as its board members undertook to redress serious shortcomings and challenges that are threatening to bring the Public Safety Academy to ruin, the headlong rush to institute reforms at the school resulted in yet another wave of adverse publicity last week.

In this case, the controversy arose out of the charter school board’s failure to conduct a fully open public venue in choosing a new administrator... And as word of the matter spread, there were suggestions that there was a conflict of interest inherent in a board member being appointed by the board to a paying position with the charter school. That fed recurrent charges that the Public Safety Academy, like some other charter schools in California, is more focused on enriching its operators than educating students...

The Public Safety Academy fell short of both educational and accounting goals over the several years of its operation, then plunged into chaos last year, resulting in lawsuits that now may end up costing its sponsoring district hundreds of thousands or perhaps even millions of dollars...

What was to become the Public Safety Academy was founded as an unaccredited educational seminar in 2000 by Michael Dickinson, a one-time arson investigator...

... Four years ago a financial review revealed the school had not kept accurate payroll and accounting records, and had spent $164,000 that was not budgeted for. There were also questions about $20,000 worth of expenditures for laptops that were either never delivered, misappropriated or stolen...

Last spring, Michael Dickinson’s wife who served as a principal at one of the school’s campuses, Susan Dickinson, fell under the charter school board’s focus after a report surfaced that she had crossed the line in prepping her students for questions contained in the state’s Standardized Testing and Reporting exam...

The charter school’s principal, Kathy Toy, had recommended that the board of trustees terminate Susan Dickinson. Before that vote took place, Michael Dickinson sacked the board of trustees.

On June 20, 2011 the Public Safety Academy board, led by Hazlett, filed suit against Public Safety Academy Inc., an adjunct to the academy which was set up and controlled by Michael Dickinson, who received $121,000 per year in salary for his services. That suit sought to restore the authority of the board that Michael Dickinson had terminated. In July, the court ruled that the board had legal authority to run the charter academy, and the contracts of Michael Dickinson, as the chief executive officer, and Dickinson’s hand-picked chief financial officer, Mike Davis, who was paid $120,000 per year, were terminated.

Subsequently, the district was sued by the parents of one of its students, a 16-year-old girl. In that suit, it is alleged that the girl, who was then 15 years old, had repeated sexual encounters with San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Nathan Gastineau, who was the girl’s mentor in her Police Explorer Scout activity coordinated at the academy...

In recent months, the Public Safety Academy has scrambled to maintain its existence...

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SAN BERNARDINO - As CEO of the Public Safety Academy, Michael Dickinson often boasted to others at the charter school about his degrees from various colleges, according to current and former academy staff.

Dickinson claimed to have earned a doctorate from the University of Phoenix, a master's degree from the University of La Verne and a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley.

And he is alleged to have used his reported doctorate as leverage against any teacher or staff member who dared question his choices or tactics...

The three colleges where Dickinson has claimed to have earned undergraduate or advanced degrees, however, have no record of him ever attending or being awarded degrees.

A search at each school's registrar's office turned up no record of Dickinson, officials at all three schools said...

On at least three professional networking or people directory websites, including Linked-In and XING, Dickinson indicated he attended the University of Phoenix from 2004 to 2007 and had earned a doctorate in education from the school. He also said he attended the University of La Verne from 2007 until 2009, earning a master's degree in "leadership."

In the hierarchy of higher learning, one typically has to have a master's degree before qualifying for a doctorate program.

Dickinson did not respond to multiple telephone calls and emails asking he clarify his educational background. But within two hours of the first email inquiry, all the educational background information Dickinson had posted on the websites had been removed...

The news comes at a time when the Public Safety Academy has fallen into a crisis of leadership. Allegations of fiscal mismanagement and a hostile work environment have culminated in a legal battle between Dickinson and the charter school's board of trustees over control of the academy and its finances.

Dickinson and the academy's corporate board of directors took action to dissolve the board of trustees on May 26, alleging members of the board of trustees were attempting to destroy the reputation of the charter school and its leaders.

The action came one week before the board of trustees was set to vote on a recommendation to fire Dickinson's wife, Susan Dickinson, a teacher who, it was determined, cheated on a state standardized test, and hiring an outside company to manage the charter school's finances...

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"Public Safety Academy Board Sues Founder.” San Bernardino County Sentinel (CA), 6/27/2011 

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am so glad I pulled my son from that school two years ago. I knew something was not right about that school, I even called the districts office and complained. I am glad to see the bad come to light.

Anonymous said...

1 Sept 2011. I just pulled my son from this school today. The school doesn't follow thier rules, provides no police/fire classes, and little supervison on campus. Do not place you kid in this school. Please check out the school first in detail. They do not care about your child and provide a poor leadership example by the staff.

Anonymous said...

nike and susan dickinson are the most disrespectful and scandulous people on this earth. worked there for a year and let me tell you they are full of it. He is as smart as a pencil and she cheats on testing. He doesnt know a thing about education. Steals money and ruins futures for children. supposedly they are setting up a new charter called true north preparatory in the desert somewhere. WE NEED TO KEEP THEM AWAY FROM ALL STUDENTS