BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) – Tensions ran high Tuesday in a Manatee County courtroom over the future of Lincoln Memorial Academy.
As a battle for control of the academy wages on, the judge lashed out in frustration.
Administrative law judge Bob Cohen said he has had enough.
“I just can’t believe a school – that I know is full of computers and record-keeping and has a CEO and a CFO and HR person – that there’s not records. There has to be records!” said Cohen.
The judge said on eight occasions Lincoln Memorial Academy failed to prove to the school district that it was in compliance.
“If there aren’t records, the inference I make is that the records have been destroyed or hidden,” said Cohen.
Principal Eddie Hundley’s education certificate was revoked after he recommended LMA teacher Quentin Peterson for a new job, even though Peterson was being investigated for child porn.
After Hundley refused to step down, the Manatee County School District took over.
The school district says LMA’s finances were in disarray. Teachers were not being paid, the school was behind on water bills and LMA failed to pay its food provider.
The school district pointed out that cafeteria staff was forced to buy food from Sam’s Club and Publix. Officials say the food was stored poorly, potentially putting student safety at risk.
“There was some raw product, some of the obvious things was there were no dates on the products, so everything has to be dated, there was some raw products stored that were not covered and things like that can cause cross-contamination,” said Regina Thoma, the Director of Food Nutrition Services for the Manatee County School District.
Officials also pointed out the food purchased from the grocery stores failed to meet proper student nutritional requirements.
Meanwhile, a separate hearing was held over Quentin Peterson’s educator’s certificate.
Peterson did not show, but the judge was presented photos allegedly showing Peterson kissing an underage student.
Peterson’s jury trial will be held next week.
The LMA representative says the school district violated its contract by not giving the school enough time to fix its issues. The representative also argued the food photos were taken a few days after the school district took over the academy.
The hearing is expected to wrap up on Wednesday.