Charter closure prompts lawsuit threats and fraud accusations

Posted: Updated:
Bradley Creemos Academy in Goodyear. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Bradley Creemos Academy in Goodyear. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Attorney Quacy Smith represents the jolted teachers. 5 Feb. 2018 (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News) Attorney Quacy Smith represents the jolted teachers. 5 Feb. 2018 (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News)
Letter posted at school announcing the closure. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News) Letter posted at school announcing the closure. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The threat of lawsuits and accusations of fraud are being launched against the CEO of the Bradley Creemos Academy in Goodyear.

Dozens of teachers, staff, parents and students gathered with their attorneys on the campus of what was formerly called Bradley Academy Monday demanding answers and accountability.

A week ago, the school abruptly shut down, leaving teachers under contract without jobs or paychecks and parents scrambling to find schools for their kids.

[RELATED:Goodyear charter suddenly closes, leaves families scrambling]

“I haven’t slept, I haven’t ate and all I do is cry. So it’s very hard for me right now,” said Ivory Willis, who was a pre-school teacher at the school, but also had a 7th grader who attended class there.

Willis’ daughter, Alissia Artis, said she is stressed out by the closure of her school and the thought of starting over in another school tomorrow.

“I was sad because I was going to miss all my teachers and my friends and I don’t have an education, so what am I supposed to do? And AZ MERITS is coming up. I have to wait to go to school tomorrow, but I’m really scared and I don’t know how I’m going to handle it tomorrow. When you’re in one school its like all the learning change when you go to another school so you don’t know how it’s going to be,”said Artis.

Attorney Quacy Smith represents the jolted teachers. He blames CEO Daniel Hughes, and possibly even the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools, for the financial mismanagement and lack of oversight that resulted in the school’s closure.

“We are in the process of formulating the necessary civil suit against Mr. Hughes and his spouse and those parties that are involved. If there are some mishandlings or failures on behalf of the appropriate government entities, whoever the watchdogs are, we’re going to come after them, too,” said Smith.

Smith believes Hughes played financial shenanigans with state taxpayer money. There are concerns that he collected hundreds of thousands of state funds based on school enrollment of more than five-hundred students, when in reality, teachers say there were only slightly more than one-hundred students enrolled.

[RELATED: Charter school transferred nearly $1 million to CEO in years prior to closing]

The Arizona State Board for Charter Schools also has concerns about Hughes’ practices surrounding companies he formed to do business with the Academy. Companies that records show paid Hughes large sums of money. 

Arizona’s Family has confirmed that before Hughes sent an email last week informing staff of the closure of the school for financial reasons, he packed up his family and moved to the Pacific Northwest. "Somebody decided to be selfish. And not only selfish, very cowardly. And I say that with everything in me. To run off and not face the music and do what’s necessary, this is heartbreaking,” said Smith.

Tina Worley, who taught 5th grade at the Academy for the past six years, is devastated about being out of work. But she is more concerned with the kids.

“I’m a teacher, I like to teach and I love kids. And when you do this to kids, that’s just not right. I have a mortgage. I have a household and everything to take care of, but really, my concern is helping the kids find a new school to get started again,” said Worley.

Ashley Berg, Executive Director of the Arizona State Charter School Board said in a statement:

“Last year, the Board chose to withhold 10% of the charter’s State Aid for compliance reasons. The Board did have concerns about this school. Some concerns were expressed to the appropriate division at the Department of Education, which had scheduled an audit for follow-up and further review. Additionally, the Board sent information to the Attorney General’s Office for their review.”

The Board will consider at it’s next meeting February 12th, issuing a Notice of Intent to Revoke to Hughes. That will limit his ability to operate charter schools in the state of Arizona. 

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.