State school funding follows students, no matter where they are enrolled. When entering data into the computer system, the lawsuits allege, Mavericks often says students are enrolled in courses they're not actually taking in order to get more funding. Even more alarming, Shaw and del Cristo allege the school does not offer a "Florida High School Diploma."

Records show Mavericks schools are not accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement. This means graduates can attend community colleges, but they may have trouble getting sports scholarships or federal grants.

Students would ask Shaw if they could check their records, to see what courses they were enrolled in. But the school principal, Candace Chewning, told her to "calm the wildfires" and deny students and parents access to the records, Shaw alleges.

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.

Chewning also chastised Shaw for warning students they might not be accepted into certain programs with a Mavericks diploma. According to Shaw, her boss told her she was spreading "poison" in the school, and Mavericks might close because so many kids were leaving. Shaw was fired in February 2010.

In April 2010, Del Cristo called the Miami-Dade school district to complain about students grades and attendance records being altered, among other allegations. She was fired the next month.

Dale Morgado, attorney for Shaw and Del Cristo, declined to comment, saying he's in settlement negotiations with Mavericks.

Mavericks officials have filed motions to dismiss both lawsuits. Biden says Mavericks schools issue Florida diplomas, but not every child graduates. When New Times contacted Hollander to ask more detailed questions about the lawsuit and other issues, she never responded.

Mavericks' paper trail is also troubling. Accountability reports, submitted by Mavericks to the state, contain bizarre financial figures. In 2010, the reports show zero dollars in revenue for the school in North Miami Beach, while both Mavericks schools in Miami-Dade claimed to be paying most of their teachers less than $5,000 a year.

Tammy Lara, principal at Mavericks High in Homestead, says those salaries are no longer correct. "Our salaries are very competitive to Miami-Dade County public schools," she says.

But Lara was not head of the school last year when the reports were submitted and didn't know why the listed salaries were so low. Hollander said she was unfamiliar with the state reports and would have to review them before commenting. When emailed the reports, she never responded.


Money has long been a problem for Mavericks. At the Fort Lauderdale Mavericks in June, independent auditors found the school met state criteria for a "financial emergency,"with a net deficit of at least $520,000. At the same time, an audit showed that the North Miami Beach Mavericks was $400,000 in debt and had borrowed from the Mavericks management company to stay afloat. The state department of education also required the Mavericks school in Pinellas to create a financial corrective action plan.

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," Biden says.

By law, school district officials can shutter charter schools with serious academic or financial problems. But Mavericks has managed to avert the worst penalties by submitting plans to correct its finances and by earning "incomplete" instead of "D" or "F" on its state report cards. Plus, Florida law is designed to encourage charters, not shut them down. Even failing schools are given time to improve before they are closed.

John Schuster, spokesman for the Miami-Dade school district, says no action has been taken against Mavericks there. "The district monitors charter schools' academic and financial performance. In general, it takes two years of poor performance data to result in closure."

Both Miami-Dade Mavericks schools have been open since August 2009. The Broward and Palm Beach schools are newer, and thus do not have a two-year track record.

The management fees paid by the individual schools to Mavericks in Education Florida have been a source of controversy. School district officials want to know what the fee will be before they approve a new school, but it's not always clear. Last year, the management fee was $267,000 for the Fort Lauderdale Mavericks school. In 2010, Mavericks in Homestead paid the management company $418,000, or 17 percent of its state funds. In Palm Beach County, Mavericks' fee is not specified in its contract. Hollander says the fee varies based on enrollment, but it's capped at 11 percent of the state funding the school receives.

According to Biden, Mavericks turns a profit because of its savvy real estate choices. "It's all about the buildings we buy," he says."Certainly the operation of the schools isn't profitable."

But most of the time, Mavericks isn't buying buildings. It's striking deals with private landlords, then charging individual schools rent of $350,000 per year for five years, regardless of the price of the building. That's the case in Homestead, North Miami, Kissimmee, and Pinellas. In Homestead, the school building's current market value is $1.2 million, but the school is on the hook for $1.75 million in rent over five years.

That sum, combined with its management fee, means the Homestead school paid 28 percent of its revenue to Mavericks in Education in 2010.

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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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