In its promotional packets, Mavericks hands out a news story citing a 2010 study by the Schott Foundation for Public Education. According to the study, Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties are among the worst-performing districts in the country when it comes to serving black students. Only 39 percent of black males graduated in Broward in 2008, compared to 58 percent of white males. In Palm Beach, only 22 percent of black male students graduated, and in Miami-Dade, it was 27 percent. By targeting at-risk kids, Mavericks would try to alleviate this achievement gap.

Each school is overseen by a local, nonprofit board. Mavericks in Education Florida LLC then charges the nonprofit hundreds of thousands of dollars in management fees to run daily operations. Mavericks also handles the real estate, charging the schools $350,000 a year in rent.

Rodberg, Thimmig, and the other Mavericks founders drew up an ambitious business plan. The "build out objective" promised to open 22 charter schools by the 2011-2012 school year. The plan mimicked what Thimming had done in Ohio with White Hat. But meanwhile, newspapers in Ohio were questioning how White Hat hid its money and why its schools received failing grades from the state.

Developer Mark Rodberg wanted Dwyane Wade's name on his restaurants and schools. To read more on the topic of Mavericks and South Florida education, click  here.
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
Developer Mark Rodberg wanted Dwyane Wade's name on his restaurants and schools. To read more on the topic of Mavericks and South Florida education, click here.
Former CEO Mark Thimmig is in a legal battle with Mavericks' other founders.
PR NEWSWIRE/Newscom
Former CEO Mark Thimmig is in a legal battle with Mavericks' other founders.

Rodberg's sister, Lauren Hollander, later joined the company as manager of Mavericks. She's a real estate broker in Palm Beach Gardens, and became a 20 percent owner of Mavericks in 2008, after lending Mavericks a cash infusion of $1.2 million. She says she didn't hear about the problems with White Hat. "I don't know any of that history, honestly," she says. Hollander says her brother got to know Thimmig while building several White Hat schools.

Rodberg had more than just charter schools in his plans. He was trying to launch a chain of restaurants named after Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade. That partnership led to a bizarre beginning for the Mavericks charter schools.


In August 2007, Rodberg struck a deal with Wade to market a chain of restaurants. Their third business partner was Richard von Houtman, a man who called himself a baron and lived in a Boca Raton mansion purchased with funds from a drug lord. (See "Dwyane's Disaster," New Times July 9, 2009)

Rodberg shut down his Bucky's restaurants and reinvented them as D Wade's Place. They were to be uppity sports bars, with burgers and flat-screen TVs.

"Mr. Rodberg and Mr. von Houtman led [me] to believe that they had much experience and expertise in the restaurant business," Wade later claimed in court, "and that this deal could make everybody a lot of money."

Two months later, a chain of schools was added to the deal with Wade. Rodberg, Thimmig, and a third partner launched "Mavericks High D. Wade's Schools," a soon-to-be chain of charter schools based in Fort Lauderdale. In court documents, Thimmig alleges the plan was simple: He would contribute his expertise and "a design model for the schools." Rodberg would chip in $1 million in cash, take out a $1 million credit line, and would bring in Wade "to make appearances on behalf of the schools."

Hollander says the charters planned to use the basketball star as a celebrity spokesman, encouraging kids to enroll in Mavericks and graduate. "Kids related to him. Parents related to him. Even grandparents related to him! He was the biggest celebrity ever to be connected with the national high school dropout crisis," Thimmig told New Times in 2009.

Aside from the celebrity connection, Mavericks appeared to be White Hat for the Sunshine State. Along with Rodberg and Thimmig, Maverick's third original investor was Cathy Wooley-Brown, a former senior vice president for White Hat in Florida. The company also hired Bonnie Solinsky, who ran a White Hat school, the Life Skills Center of Pinellas County, that closed last year. Solinsky is now Mavericks' director of curriculum.

But pairing schools with a restaurant chain and a basketball star turned out to be a lethal mix. Wade would later allege in court documents that the partners were scheming to cut him out of profits. When they asked him to invest $1 million in the Aventura location of the restaurant, he refused.

According to Rodberg and von Houtman, Wade demanded a higher ownership share of the restaurant chain. When Rodberg and von Houtman refused, Wade refused to show up for photo ops and commercials. The partners sued Wade in December 2008. By then, the restaurants had closed, and Rodberg was losing cash fast. His Millennium Plaza landlord sued him for failing to pay rent on the Fort Lauderdale Bucky's. A Broward circuit court judge eventually ordered Rodberg and Bucky's to pay Millennium Plaza $3.4 million, but Rodberg appealed the ruling and won. This August the Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled the trial court had not properly determined damages, and sent the case back to Broward, where records show it has not yet been resolved.

In March 2009, Thimmig announced Mavericks was also ending its relationship with Wade. The star flaked, didn't appear in TV or radio ads, and wasn't returning calls, Thimmig claimed. Wade's name disappeared from Mavericks' school signs and another lawsuit was filed. Rodberg and Hollander demanded $115 million from Wade for reneging on the restaurant and charter school deals.

Meanwhile, Mavericks' relationship with CEO Thimmig also began to sour. By October 2009, Thimmig had helped Mavericks open four schools — in Homestead, Kissimmee, Largo, and North Miami Beach — and enroll 950 students. Each new student brings in roughly $6,900 in state funding and $700 from the federal government, according to documents Mavericks submitted to the Florida Department of Education.

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22 comments
A former mavericks parent
A former mavericks parent

Mavericks as a whole is a joke Kids cheating their way to a graduation Administration doing nothing but lining their pockets with illegal money for students they claim on their system who have never attended . Grades are fake and mean nothing .. Computers instead of textbooks and teachers and they wonder why they have 7% passing on the reading fcat after te state lowered its standard and how can you even lump the ones that passed it while in jail. Somebody needs to shut them down... Parents don't send your kids there... Job seekers keep moving trust me you don't want to work for such a lousy company trying to pass itself off as a school

Itzli
Itzli

Yet the school boards in Florida continue to approve new charter schools...hmmmm...something fishy is going on....how come the Department of Education allows this to happen? There is a lot of money going under the table for school board members and other politicians who are involved with the approval of charter schools....I smell CORRUPTION!!! It's the only explanation...there should be more "Watergate" uncoverings...

Comment
Comment

How can u teach kids using a program on a computer and kids take the test and write the wrong answer in a paper then take test again and they put different answer until they go it right teachers begs students to come to classroom cos kids don't hv too as long as they work on the computer how can a software teach kids teacher at maverick they do secretary work answer phone and teach about 8 kids a day that's all they do

Guest
Guest

InConclusion2012, is probably someone at mavericks. Simply put...why would anyone ever take their children to a non-credited school? ...Do a background check before posting. The Rodbergs are in it for the money. They have so much Litigation's and people suing them in the state of Florida, no one would ever do business with them...these people are hoodlums.  Forget about what they are trying to do...and FYI.. the SAT scores for  Miami Dade, are up this year, substantially. Look it up....

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jgrim
jgrim

Hey, InConclusion- What's your name and who do you work for? Are you a real live 1%er or a PR persona defending private profit off of the backs of poor kids? Ever worked in a classroom with at-risk kids? I have for 23 years.

It's NOT the school system that has failed these kids- it's your sociopathic 1%ers' economic system that has left them and their families in deep debt and poverty with low wage jobs and no support services.

InConclusion2012
InConclusion2012

Winston Churchill said: To build may have to be a slowand laborious task of Years. to destroy can be the thoughtless act of a singleday...

 

Lisa Rab and her cohorts have been hammering away at theMavericks organization for over a month now, it has brought me to threeconclusions.

 

(1). Thank God the people at Mavericks are providing anopportunity for 4000 at risk teenagers to Graduate High School. I personallydon't know of any other organizations offering tuition free education to thissegment of students.

 

(2). If the Public Education System was doing the jobthat they receive over $12,000 per student of tax payer money as opposed to$6,000 the charter schools receive. Mavericks would not have any studentsenrolling.

 

(3) I have not read any suggestions or alternativesolutions by Lisa Rab for parents of students that are not succeeding in thepublic high schools they are assigned to base on the boundries of where theylive. 

 

 

Joe
Joe

In the article, it says "Mavericks officials say Fort Lauderdale's debt was temporary, because the school's original enrollment was low. Hollander wrote a check to cover the budget hole, and the school is "now on its feet and very healthy,"  Funny thing about that.  The Fort Lauderdale school achieved full enrollment faster than any previous Maverick's High School.  While Mavericks promised they would advertise on the radio to encourage enrollment, the radio spots never happened.  And the school was trying to enrollment for two months before Mavericks bothered to add the school to their website.  The problems at Fort Lauderdale are not the fault of early poor enrollment.  They are entirely the fault of the money grabbing, don't give a lick about education, management in the Corporate Offices.  Gov'n Scott -- are you reading this article.  It is time to put strong controls on Charter Schools so that they quit taking tax payer money and giving nothing back to the public.  And Mavericks ... shut them down!

dip lomas94
dip lomas94

Great info man you have done a great job. You are really inspiring me. Keep up the good work.

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FQS9000
FQS9000

At the worst, a for profit school cares about keeping students and their parents happy.  This is in stark contrast to the teaching union weasels who only care about time off, benefits, pensions and making sure nobody ever, ever gets fired.  Just read their contracts.

Jerry1932
Jerry1932

The article correctly points out why Florida is a ripe mark for these types of frauds.  You MUST send your kid to private school.  Most are very good, but this is total BS! Even the private schools here that charge almost $20,000 provide very little extras b/c they do not have to.  There is no competition.  I blame the Old F-er's who move here and the corrupt public officials.

SchoolDistrictFailsChildren
SchoolDistrictFailsChildren

Lisa, I would like to hear more about how the Palm Beach School District only graduates 22% of Black Males or Miami's 27%.  How long has this been going on? Why cant they reach these kids?  What happens to these kids?

SchoolDistrictFailsChildren
SchoolDistrictFailsChildren

If public education did its job, there would be no need for schools like mavericks.  Students need alternatives because the system is BROKEN.

Geraldo
Geraldo

Good reporting but there's an awful lot of self-promotion from New Times in an article about education and developers skating by on self-promotion alone.

Itzli
Itzli

You obviously work for Mavericks and are getting part of the big $$$ that company is stealing from the tax payers. As a teacher who has worked in charter schools and schools that utilize the computer system called Plato, I can tell you that students do not learn anything, and that those schools are just a money-making business,  doing a disservice to the students. These schools are part of the master plan of keeping people uneducated to create an ignorant yet controllable nation. 

ForTheChildrenOfAmerica
ForTheChildrenOfAmerica

If you close Mavericks High, who will educate these children?  The school system has already failed them...

Davetg
Davetg

So how many teachers do you actually know?? I would say none. I would also say that you've never had a job w/ a contract, or been a union member as well. That's a little sad actually. Working conditions are a concern, but in front of that is the concern we have for our students . . . Something that you know absolutely nothing about . . .

KennyPowersII
KennyPowersII

Maybe it is more like the students fail the districts. Those that do not want to be taught and devalue the worth of an education will fail. They drag the system down to their level and defeat the educational process.

Lisa Rab
Lisa Rab

Good questions! I don't have any fast answers, but I will look into it.

ForTheChildrenOfAmerica
ForTheChildrenOfAmerica

Its not the fault of teachers...  The system is BROKEN...  This competition from charter schools will cause everyone to rethink the plan.  Schools havent improved upon their models in a hundred years...  The current system is turning certain minorities into a permanent underclass...

FQS9000
FQS9000

At last count, my mother was a teacher, my wife is a teacher and I know three other local union twerps.  I've been in a union and they are merely extortion organizations.  No teacher in the last 50 years has had unsafe working conditions.  They merely want more money for less work and less responsibility.  Read any teacher's union contract.

The teacher's unions are run by scum.  Any teacher who doesn't like their job is entitled to find another job, but they should not have high pay or tenure for NOT teaching our children.

recentgraduate
recentgraduate

last time I checked, the starting salary for a teacher in Florida is $29K. all I remember is the caliber of the students in the teacher's college was the worst in my university. high pay for having a 4-year degree? sure doesn't look like it to me and it doesn't look like a desirable profession at that. welcome to the new normal, America. 

 
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