Mavericks High in Homestead Graduated 18 Students in Two Years

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A Homestead charter school run by a for-profit company that promises to help at-risk kids graduate issued standard diplomas to only 18 students in the past two years, according to the Miami-Dade school district.

Mavericks High of South Miami-Dade had 52 seniors enrolled during the 2009-2010 school year. Only two of them --  or 3.8 percent of the class -- graduated with a standard diploma.

The next year, district records show 16 Mavericks students received standard diplomas and six earned certificates of completion, meaning they had finished their coursework but

didn't pass the FCAT, or didn't have a high enough grade point average to earn a diploma. That year, 176 seniors were enrolled at the school, putting the graduation rate at 9 percent.

However, Florida Department of Education records paint a bleaker picture, showing just eight Mavericks High of South Miami-Dade students graduated last year, or 4.5 percent of the senior class. It's unclear why the district records and state records don't match.

Earlier this year, two former employees of Mavericks High in Homestead filed whistleblower lawsuits alleging, among other complaints, that the school doesn't offer a "Florida High School Diploma," alters attendance records to receive more money from the school district, and "regularly fails to accurately post grades and report student enrollment" in the district's computer system, in violation of state law.

Lauren Hollander, manager of Mavericks in Education Florida, the company that runs the Homestead school, denied the allegations when questioned by the Miami Herald. Hollander has not responded to questions she asked New Times to email her two weeks ago.

Mavericks officials say their charter schools are specifically designed to help kids who would otherwise drop out stay in school, graduate, and move on to college and career paths.

Other Mavericks schools have higher graduation rates, according to state records -- although none manage to give diplomas to even half their students. Mavericks High in North Miami Beach had a 12.7 percent graduation rate last year. In Fort Lauderdale the rate was 13.1 percent, in Largo it was 7.2 percent. The Mavericks High in Kissimmee had the highest rate, at 43.3 percent.

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