Bradenton private school flip-flops in identity

ataylor@bradenton.comJuly 29, 2011 

BRADENTON -- Don’t expect to see signs for New Path Academy outside the private school at 7700 Cortez Road.

That name no longer graces the school’s building. Instead, it’s now called The Prep Academy, another twist in the beleaguered school’s history.

The school’s name has been changed four times in a little more than a year. In June 2010, the private school was accredited under the name of Bradenton Preparatory Academy. Since then, accreditation was dropped, according to Jennifer Oliver, vice president for communications with AdvancED Accreditation Commission, the umbrella organization under which the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools operates.

In the past year, the school name was changed to The Prep Learning Academy, New Path Academy and finally The Prep Academy.

Only last month, former private school owner Jennifer Radebach said she was the new chief executive officer of New Path Academy. It was her next move in education after she had worked as a private school owner and lost a recent election to the Manatee County School Board.

In June, Radebach held an open house, giving tours of the newly constructed classrooms.

But school administrator Renee Cottrell said this week that Radebach is no longer associated with the school and the name New Path Academy has been dropped. Radebach didn’t return several phone calls for a response.

The name had to change because the school is now seeking charter-school status with the Manatee County School District and the name New Path Academy was used in the past.

“The same name could not be used to apply for a charter,” Cottrell said.

Manatee County Schools Verdya Bradley, associate director of innovative programs and parental options, confirmed that The Prep Academy is applying to be a charter school with the district.

The deadline to turn in paperwork is Aug. 1.

To apply for charter- school status, school administrators are required to complete an extensive application including submitting an educational plan, an organizational chart and signing an oath tied to Florida law.

Financial information also is required of school leaders.

The application will be reviewed by the state’s Department of Education. A local review panel will oversee the application and interview the applicants.

Then the school district’s superintendent will make a recommendation on whether the application should be accepted and the school board votes on whether to approve the charter.

A special permit to increase the number of middle and high school students on the site is being considered by the county’s permitting department, Stephanie Moreland, county case planner, said.

It is unclear whether former Bradenton Prep owner Hendrik Lamprecht is involved in The Prep Academy. He was a member of the board of directors at New Path Academy.

Bradenton Prep faced financial problems including owing more than $1 million in federal payroll taxes, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

A lender won a $3.68 million foreclosure judgment and repossessed the school’s former campus at 40th Avenue West.

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