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No wrongdoing found at Mason Classical Academy in Naples

Posted at 6:59 AM, Nov 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-06 14:22:45-05

NAPLES, Fla. -- An independent law firm found no evidence of wrong-doing at Mason Classical Academy after several allegations were made against the school.

The Collier County School District released an in-depth report over the summer that claimed the academy was mishandling money, violating Florida laws and mismanaging the school.

The school board at the academy hired an outside attorney to investigate the claims against the school to clear their name.

In this report, the law firm went through every allegation and exonerated the school and its leaders of doing anything wrong.

“I think they did an honest and fair job regarding all persons that were named in this report,” said Kelly Lichter, the president of Mason Classical Academy.

In June, the school district’s general counsel, Jon Fishbane listed several claims against the academy in a yearlong investigated report.

It was referred by the state after the school's former treasurer, Joseph Baird made a complaint to the state’s Department of Education.

The report criticizes the academy’s leaders, accuses them of mishandling money, breaching contract and violating the Sunshine and FERPA law.

“He defamed us, assassinating our character, and people believed what he said,” said Lichter.

The Hillsdale College, a strong advocate for charter schools, then wrote a letter sharing the same concerns outlined in Fishbane’s report.

The academy then hired an independent law firm to look into these allegations and found the findings to be inaccurate and one sided.

“So we were not given any due process in any of this,” said Lichter.

However, the district said the exoneration was a waste of time and money.

“We’re not in the business of revising history,” said Chad Oliver, CCPS executive director of Communications. “We want Mason Classical Academy to follow through with what they already agreed in the settlement agreement.”

In August, both the district and academy already signed off on a mediation agreement, settling the issues.

“Just basic framework for how a charter school should operate in the state of Florida,” said Oliver.

Right now, the academy is looking into possible remedies for the damage that was caused by these claims.