November 26, 2015

Former director of defunct Bishopville charter school indicted

The former director of a Midlands-area charter school is now facing a federal indictment.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Thursday that Benita Dinkins-Robinson, 39, had been indicted on two counts of theft of government property. She is accused of converting school nutrition funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and special education grants from the Department of Education for her own use. The exact dollar amount has not been made public.

The charges come two years after the South Carolina Public Charter School District board voted to cut off funding for the Mary L. Dinkins Higher Learning Academy in Bishopville.  The board also asked the State Law Enforcement Division to investigate claims of fraudulent diplomas, and academic and financial “discrepancies,” at the time.

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. But the board voted to revoke its charter only two years later. However, the Dinkins Academy continued operating while a countersuit made its way through the legal system and moved to a Sumter church for the 2012-2013 school year.

The state shut it down following a judge’s ruling in March 2013. Approximately 140 elementary-aged children were enrolled in Mary L. Dinkins at the time.

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