PALMETTO, Fla. (WFLA) – The Manatee County School District is taking over Lincoln Memorial Academy.
The charter school’s former principal refused to step down, so the school district has wrestled control from him and they’re cleaning house.
During Tuesday night’s school board meeting, the community came out in force, fighting for the future of Lincoln Memorial Academy.
In May, Principal Eddie Hundley was stripped of his teaching license.
This all stemmed after he recommended teacher Quentin Peterson for another teaching job even though Peterson was under investigation for child pornography.
But Hundley infuriated the Florida Department of Education because he refused to step down.
He then changed his title to ‘Founder and CEO.’
On top that, the school’s finances are a mess- some teachers have not been paid, and school district officials say 41% of the budget went to administrative salaries, which they say is disproportionate.
Also, a few days ago the school got a notice from the City of Palmetto that the water is about to be shut off.
The school owes a water bill of $3,216.67 or the water will be shut off by July 30th.
On Tuesday the manatee county school board voted to take back control. Lincoln will remain a charter school, but the school district will appoint an interim principal and a new board.
“Just changing your name and your title doesn’t change who you are and what you’re doing,” said General Counsel Mitchell Teitelbaum. “Its been the intention of this district at all times that Lincoln Memorial Academy remains as a charter school, the intention is not to close it down. Whether that involves a change of administration, new practices, financial accountability, solvency.”
Members of the community are frustrated.
“We’re just not even sure what they’ve done, is it totally legal, and what they’re trying to do is illegal,” said Arthur Huggins, whose granddaughter attends the school.
Huggins stands in full support of Eddie Hundley. Despite the allegations, he feels Hundley should maintain a role at the school.
“He’s the founder of it,” said Huggins. “I think Eddie Hundley is a great man, I think what he done here is phenomenal, despite the accusation and allegations that’s before him.”
Hundley did not wish to speak on camera but he did release a statement-
The latest actions taken by the [M]anatee county school board are another example of the unjust, unfair and overreaching acts against Lincoln Memorial Academy and the community it serves. The Board and Founder / CEO are retaining legal counsel to appeal this latest effort to distract and mislead the public. We are confident the school and community will be made whole again. We thank the community for the undeniably overwhelming show of support at the board meeting. It was the will and desire of the community to convert the school, and will be that very thing that pushes through the current obstacles to maintain it!
Officials say the school has ten days to file an appeal and then a decision will be made by the Division of Administrative Hearings within 60 days.
We will keep you updated.