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PREVIOUS COVERAGE | Accreditation continuing for Bradenton Prep

BRADENTON — Bradenton Preparatory Academy will retain its accreditation despite myriad financial woes and a pending foreclosure auction, regional accreditation officials said Wednesday.

In mid-April, a review team from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the agency that accredits the private school at 7900 40th Ave. W., visited Bradenton Prep to see if it complied with standards that would continue its accreditation.

The AdvancEd Accreditation Commission, the umbrella organization under which SACS operates, met June 22 and accepted SACS recommendation to continue accreditation for Bradenton Preparatory Academy, SACS Director Pat Wentz wrote in a brief e-mail to the Herald.

“I am not at liberty to share other details of this arrangement,” she wrote. “You may want to discuss this with school officials.”

School leaders did not return multiple phone calls and e-mails Wednesday. There was no one at the school’s campus Wednesday afternoon.

Accreditation agencies review schools every few years to make sure they are maintaining a set of standards, including sound finances, strong leadership, effective teachers and a commitment to continuous improvement.

Although most private schools seek accreditation, no state law requires them to be accredited. There also is no state regulating body for private school accrediting agencies. Most postsecondary training programs, colleges and prospective employers accept diplomas and transcripts only from accredited schools, according to the state Department of Education.

In April, GTE Federal Credit Union won a $3.68 million foreclosure judgment against Bradenton Prep’s owner, The Children’s Place, for defaulting on a 2005 loan. The school’s 11-acre campus is scheduled to be auctioned Friday to satisfy that judgment.

The school also faces a second foreclosure judgment, this one for $1.92 million that a Manatee County circuit judge awarded to Freedom Holdings Manatee LLC on Tuesday.

“I can’t believe it,” said Cheryl Gaynor, a math teacher at the school. “I’m dumbfounded. I can’t believe they gave the school accreditation when they don’t even know where the building is going to be.”

Gaynor said she is one of almost three dozen teachers who have not received a paycheck since February.

She is owed about $20,000 and also is among about a dozen employees who have filed letters demanding the school pay them this week or risk a possible lawsuit. As of Wednesday, school officials had not yet responded, said Gaynor, who is now claiming unemployment.

Natalie Neysa Alund, Herald education reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7095.