Balere Language Academy

“Charter school building heads to foreclosure auction.” South Florida Business Journal (FL), 12/21/2012

The former home of a shuttered charter school is set for auction after Great Florida Bank won a $2.24 million foreclosure judgment.

The Miami-Dade County School Board voted in April to shut down the Balere Language Academy after parents complained of house parties with alcohol and distasteful promotions.

The Miami Lakes-based bank (Pink Sheets: GFLB) won the judgment against nonprofit Balere and loan guarantors Rocka Malik and Nagib Malik over a $1.5 million mortgage, plus interest and fees. It was also awarded judgment against Strategic Empowerment for Economic Development Corp., which provided a $1.2 million second mortgage...
“Charter school in adult-club scandal has money woes; A party promoterthat has been scheduling boozy bashes at a troubled Miami-Dade charter schoolhas ties to the school’s principal, records show.” The Miami Herald (FL), 0/13/2011
The “Push It To Da Limit: The Flossin Edition” late-night party is still scheduled to go off Saturday night — but it won’t be at a South Miami-Dade charter school, as previously advertised.

Miami-Dade School District officials on Friday were still trying to determine whether the Balere Language Academy — a charter school already facing financial free-fall and increased school district scrutiny — has also been doubling as an after-hours nightclub.

This week district officials learned of R-rated party fliers, featuring bikini-clad women and bottles of booze, promoting a bash at 10875 Quail Roost Dr. — the address of the South Miami Heights charter school. Older ads, Twitter posts, Facebook photos and a string of parent complaints about smoky smells and empty beer bottles on campus also indicated past parties were held at the school.

Balere’s principal and founder, Rocka Malik, told The Miami Herald on Thursday that she knew nothing about any after-hours parties at her school. But records show the party promoter is tied to Malik’s husband: A phone number for the promoter comes back to a car-wash company managed by Malik’s husband, Clifton Smith, who is also a director of a pre-school at Balere. Malik and Smith did not return phone calls on Friday.

This is not the first time the school has come under fire: Last fall, school inspectors discovered that nine seventh-graders were being taught in a wooden storage shed on campus, records show. “Students had difficulty putting their legs comfortably under the desks,” district inspectors wrote in one report. When interviewed by an inspector with Miami-Dade’s building department, Malik denied that the shed was being used as a classroom, records show...

The controversy comes as Balere struggles to stay afloat amid a barrage of problems. Among them:

• A lender filed a foreclosure lawsuit against the school in June for failing to make payments on a $1.5 million mortgage — one of four mortgages on the school’s six-acre property, records show.
•  Enrollment at the K-7 school has plummeted from 255 students last October to just 82 students today, records show.
•  The school’s revenue, which comes from public tax dollars directly tied to the number of students, has shrunk from more than $2 million in 2010 to just over $1 million today. As of February, the school owed more than $100,000 to the Internal Revenue Service for unpaid payroll taxes.
•  The school has lost two principals since January, and school district officials said they cannot identify the current members of the nonprofit school’s board.

School district officials threatened to close the charter school last year, after it received an F grade from the state based on poor student test scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. But Balere appeared to make a dramatic turnaround when it raised its grade to an A this spring, winning the school a reprieve.

Yet Balere remains under scrutiny by the school district over its finances. The school had to submit a financial recovery plan to the district after two years in the red. District officials have questioned whether the school has a realistic plan to stay afloat...

District officials are now questioning how the school property is handled as well. The campus is owned by Balere, Inc., the nonprofit company that also holds the charter to operate the school. Yet Balere, Inc. leases the property to another school-related entity for $8,000 a month, according to a financial audit of the school...

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I'm glad I found this. When I told my friends about the things that went on in that school, which I unfortunately had to attend in my 6th grade year, they could not believe me. I had to find something like this for proof. Everything they were suspected of doing, was actually happening. That school was a disgusting mess. It was always as filthy as it could possibly be, there were beer bottle caps everywhere, and somebody even found a bikini top once. And they were definitely using that shed as a classroom. Everything about that school was a ripoff. I remember less than half way through the year, the French program, which was really the only language taught there, was cut. They also had Spanish, but they didn't teach it. They just taught some classes in Spanish. Then, in the middle of the year, the math teacher got fired. Rocka Malik, who at that point was already the principal, became the math teacher. She was a horrible one. All that happened 6 years ago, almost 7, and still today I wish my parents had just sent me to the regular school in our neighborhood.