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Bradenton Prep cited for lacking permits

MANATEE -- The county’s code enforcement department is citing The Prep Learning Academy for illegally operating at a Cortez Road West strip mall.

Owners of the 7700 Cortez Road property, John and Vasilki Rekkas, were notified last week by Manatee County Code Enforcement that the owners of The Prep Learning Academy do not have a permit to operate the school at the site.

The school, previously known as Bradenton Preparatory Academy, is leasing the building for the private school but has not gotten the required permits necessary to open, code enforcement officer Tom Wooten said.

“It has come to the attention of the Neighborhood Services Department that a school is operating without the required administrative and special permits,” Wooten’s letter states. “The code enforcement board or Special Magistrate may assess fines up to $250 per day for each day the violation exists beyond the date set for compliance or for each day the violation is repeated.”

The school sign outside of the building says The Prep Extraordinary -- a campus online program.

Building owner John Rekkas said Tuesday he didn’t know anything about a violation, and said he didn’t receive the letter from code enforcement, which was dated Dec. 16. Rekkas said students gathered at his property were being picked up by bus to go to another site.

Manatee County Code Enforcement Manager Joe Fenton said he was familiar with the student pick-up situation but said that’s not what led to the violation.

“We don’t know if they have been holding classes,” Fenton said. “But we know the kids have been in the building.”

At noon Dec. 15, a Herald reporter observed at least three students standing inside the gate-enclosed area around the building. One boy had an overstuffed bookbag as he stood outside the building. At least two cars were parked directly in front of the building.

The black iron gate surrounding the facility has a private property sign on it and a code is required to get into the security gate.

“They need to come into compliance,” Fenton said about students being in the building. “They need to finish their (permitting) process.”

Hendrik Lamprecht, owner of the private for-profit school, did not return calls Tuesday for comment.

The school has been beset by financial problems in the last year with money owed to the IRS and property at the former Bradenton Preparatory Academy repossessed.

The Prep Learning Academy has held classes at numerous Bradenton locations this school year, including two churches.