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NBC 6 Investigators Find Pricey School Equipment

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC 6 Investigator Tony Pipitone was able to locate three pricey pieces of technology that belonged to a school district.

    (Published Friday, Aug. 25, 2017)

    Soon after Pathways Academy Charter School shut down last year, the Broward County Public Schools went looking for $41,000 in electronic equipment it provided to the charter school to use – as long as it stayed open.

    But more than year after financial mismanagement and other violations of law led to the school’s demise, most of that equipment was nowhere to be found – until the NBC 6 Investigators found a lot of it Thursday.

    The Investigators located the three Promethean Activtables – electronic educational aids worth $5,000 each – at a Fort Lauderdale church run by a pastor who had been associated with people connected to Pathways Academy.

    Caleb Deliard, pastor of the Victory of Grace Church in Fort Lauderdale, had named the former head of Pathways Academy – Yudit Silva – principal of a private school Deliard was hoping to open in Tamarac.

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    Silva’s husband, Adrian Diaz, is listed in state records as president of the not-for-profit corporation formed with Deliard for the planned new school, Odyssey Academy.

    And the third officer of that corporation – Samuel Batiste – is the man Deliard said introduced him to Silva and gave him the $15,000 in equipment to store in the church as they waited for the new school to open.

    Last week, school police and the chief auditor located about $10,000 of the missing Pathways equipment in a storage unit in Fort Lauderdale.

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    But the three $5,000 tables were still missing until Thursday, when the NBC 6 Investigators asked Deliard if he had received any tables he was hoping to use in his new school.

    Deliard said Batiste had given him some tables and offered to show them to NBC 6.

    It was clear after comparing the tables’ serial numbers – these were tables Broward schools had been looking for.

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    NBC 6 alerted the schools auditor we had located the tables, and Deliard Thursday night promptly turned them over to the district Thursday night.

    Even with that recovery, the district is still missing nearly $16,000 worth of technology equipment provided to Pathways after being purchased with bond technology fund. Among four other recently closed charter schools, all or nearly all of the technology equipment used by those schools has been returned to the district, the schools said in a statement.

    Deliard said he had no idea the school administration was looking for the tables until NBC 6 contacted him about them on Thursday.

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    The schools’ chief auditor, Patrick Riley, said all the missing equipment had been reported stolen to the Broward Sheriff’s Office.

    Batiste did not return a message seeking comment.

    Silva has also declined to comment on her role.

    Deliard dropped Silva from her position with Odyssey last month after NBC 6 Investigators showed him a Broward schools audit that found mismanagement and violations of law at Pathways while Silva headed the charter school.

    In light of the discovery of the tables, Deliard said he would also not allow Diaz or Batiste to be involved in the new school – if it ever opens. The Tamarac location is mostly vacant as Deliard says he seeks proper permitting from the city.

    The recovery of the equipment is the latest irregularity involving the failed Pathways Academy charter school.

    Pathways Academy was found to have falsified teacher’s signatures, misspent money, failed to pay bills and federal payroll taxes, and overstated enrollment figures, receiving nearly $50,000 in overpayments from state funds, according to an audit by the Broward School District.

    Citing “financial mismanagement” and violations of law, the school board voted in April 2016 to revoke Pathways’ charter – a decision upheld in January by a state administrative judge after the school appealed.

    The IRS has filed more than $82,000 in liens against the company that ran the school, Silva of South Florida Inc., claiming it did not properly report or pay payroll taxes, such as amounts withheld from employees’ paychecks and the employer’s portion of social security and Medicare taxes.

    Earlier this year, the school was evicted from its Lauderdale Lakes site and Silva of South Florida Inc. was ordered to pay $48,000 in back rent, but it has not done so, according to court records. The state judge who upheld the school’s charter revocation said Silva was president of that company during the relevant time period.

    The company and Silva are also being sued for $19,000 by a leasing company that claims they failed to pay all that was owed for computer equipment.