Christian ‘Patriot’ School Implicated In Fraud, Conspiracy, After Hiring Child Molester (VIDEO)

An investigation into allegations that a North Carolina Christian school knowingly hired a man convicted of sexual offenses against an 8-year-old child, turned up more than officials were initially looking for. According to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, which was granted a search warrant in May 19:

“… there is probable cause to believe that evidence of criminal offenses, including, but not limited to fraud, obtaining property by false pretenses, conducting a criminal enterprise, conspiracy, among other things exists.”

On May 20 the sheriff’s department served a search warrant on school officials, seizing computers, records and files as part of an on-going investigation into criminal activity at Freedom Christian Academy, located in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

The school, which uses the website fcapatriots.com, is one of the state’s top recipients of “private school vouchers.” According to North Carolina Policy Watch, the school collected nearly $120,000 in taxpayer funded school vouchers in 2014.

Authorities say that the school’s administrator, Joan Dayton, knowingly employed a man convicted of two counts of sexual offenses against an 8-year-old child. Paul Leroy Connor was convicted of “taking sexual liberties with” and committing a sexual offense against the child in 2001. He served two years in prison and is barred under state law from being on school property.

The investigation revealed that Dayton knew of the conviction, and willfully hired Connor, in spite of it.

A former teacher discovered Connor’s status as a registered sex offender, while preparing to teach a lesson to students on safety. When performing a routine sex offender search, Connor’s picture came up. She went to Dayton, along with other school officials.

In an email sent in February, Dayton confirmed to the teacher that she was aware of Connor’s conviction, saying, “Yes, it’s a long story they obviously don’t want out.”

After being informed that it was against state law to allow Connor on school property, Dayton reportedly said:

“I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. He is a reformed man. I know him personally.”

She is also quoted in documents, reviewed by the Fayetteville Observer, as saying:

“This is my school. I’m in charge here and I can do whatever I want.”

Dayton later instructed the teacher to stop teaching students how to look up sex offenders online, saying:

“…at this juncture, teaching students how to plug in addresses to locate sex offenders would not be prudent or wise … neither from the school address or their home address. With the information now compromised about Paul, we are concerned about Freedom and feel we must take all precautions. Therefore, that portion of your lesson plan must be scrapped and any other area that would put us in harm’s way.”

The investigation into whether the school violated state law by employing a known sex offender soon led to additional allegations, including grade tampering and “fraudulent conduct on the part of the school and its administrators.”

Data provided by a former teacher at the school reportedly shows that:

  • Students with insufficient hours were given credit for subjects they did not complete
  • Students without sufficient grade and subject requirements under state law, were awarded diplomas
  • Low grade-point-average performing students, including a senior with an overall GPA of .97
  • School administrators altered grades to benefit select students, including those who were favored by administrators, those involved in the school’s athletic programs and students from wealthy families
  • School administrators lowered the grades of other students’ to them off the all-A Honor Roll

According to WRAL school officials handed over records and files that further verified police suspicions, during the search on Wednesday.

Freedom Christian Academy charges students just under $5,000 per year in tuition, in addition to application and administration fees. Beginning in 2014, North Carolina families can get taxpayer funded tuition for school’s like Freedom Christian Alliance, which operate with no accountability or oversight.

Under a recently passed state law, $10 million was redirected from the state’s public school system, to pay for “student vouchers” which cover the cost of tuition for schools like the Freedom Christian Academy. Yet these private schools remain exempt from financial accountability, ethics oversight, or even the academic reporting standards, which are required of public schools.

Only about 30 percent of North Carolina’s “voucher schools” are accredited by an independent agency. Many of the schools that receive taxpayer funded vouchers do not have a single certified teacher on staff. At least 75 percent do not follow the state’s curriculum mandates. Worse, many of the schools that are collecting voucher money aren’t even teaching the “enrolled” students at all. Instead, they’re collecting thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds for students that are supposedly being taught at home.

Republicans claim that the public school system is failing our students. The solution, they claim, is to divert funds from the public school system, giving the money to unlicensed, unaccountable private schools, who are not held to any standard at all.

Last year North Carolina Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood found the state’s school voucher program to be entirely unconstitutional. In his ruling, Hopgood said:

“The General Assembly fails the children of North Carolina when they are sent with public taxpayer money to private schools that have no legal obligation to teach them anything.”

Various right wing groups challenged the decision, taking the issue to the state’s supreme court. Oral arguments were heard in February. In the meantime, these scam schools continue to operate on taxpayer money.

The school voucher system is a calculated attack on the public education system. As The Young Turks pointed out in a episode from 2012, shortly after Louisiana approved similar legislation, vouchers are a scheme to funnel public money into the coffers of religious and right wing organizations who, in turn, funnel more money into the coffers of right wing politicians and political organizations, all at the expense of students.

Here’s the TYT episode, with more background on how vouchers are harming students and destroying public education.

*Featured image credit: screen capture from fcapatiots.org