A charter school in Lee County has been shut down and its leaders are now under criminal investigation.
The South Carolina Public Charter School District’s board of trustees cut off funding for the Mary L. Dinkins Higher Learning Academy in Bishopville on July 12 and has recommended that state investigators look into the school’s personnel.
The board has asked the State Law Enforcement Division and to investigate unidentified school officials regarding claims of fraudulent diplomas, and academic and financial “discrepancies.” An announcement from the Charter School District said the state Department of Education is already looking at the school’s finances.
South Carolina Education Superintendent Mick Zais said former school officials have filed a countersuit.
The school’s charter was revoked in March and then it closed for good after the school year ended last month. Mary L. Dinkins Academy had been part of the Lee County School District, but transferred to the statewide district under a probationary arrangement in 2010. It had 150 students enrolled this past year.
“The decision of the Board underscores our resolve to maintain the ethical, legal, and academic standards of the law with respect to public education, all in the best interest of public school students and public taxpayers,” said SC Public Charter School District Superintendent Wayne Brazell.
Mary L. Dinkins received $1.5 million in state funds last year, according to documents from the school district.
The SC Public Charter School District is a state-run school district that currently has over 12,000 students in seventeen schools located across the state.