EASTON ARTS ACADEMY
A Public Charter School for the Arts
Ask about our academic and art programs by phone, through email or fill out a contact form below!
An Investment for Their Future
Information sessions are scheduled via Zoom for:
Monday, August 10, 2020 11:00 am
Tuesday, August 11, 2020 6:30 pm
Wednesday, August 12, 2020 2:00 pm
Email for the meeting Zoom link
Please ensure that we have your current email address and telephone number on file. You can email the information to:firstname.lastname@example.org or call 484-546-4230
Thank you so much for your time, flexibility and collaboration. We are looking forward to a wonderful school year.
EASTON ARTS ACADEMY
30 North 4fh Street, Easton, Pennsylvania 18042
Phone (484) 546-4230 Fax (610) 829-6076
July 30, 2020
Dear Parents, Staff, and Easton Community Members,
Over the past few weeks, Easton Arts Academy Elementary Charter School ("EAAECS") has been taking decisive action related to the findings of a recently provided forensic investigation report (the "Report"). While we, the Board of EAAECS (the "Board"), endeavored to conduct a full and complete investigation prior to releasing any findings on this matter in an effort to deter any potential public confusion, recent events compel us to respond to misinformation that has been promulgated. To that end, we want to express our appreciation for the work the forensic auditor, Mr. Bedics, undertook and provide you a status update, particularly related to the Form
First and foremost, any statements or assertions that we, the Board, have not taken action in response to the Report is categorically false. While the Report is dated July 2nd, the Report was not actually shared with the entire Board until July 9th. Upon receipt, the Board quickly scheduled an executive session for July 13th to discuss its contents. At the July 13th meeting, directives were given, including (a) to Dr. Chadwick Antonio, CEO, to begin collaborating with EAAECS's business controller, Charter Choices, to update financial policies and procedures based on the auditor's recommendations and (b) to EAAECS's General Counsel to obtain additional information related to Mr. Bedics' findings from Charter Choices; Buckno Lisicky, EAAECS's annual auditor; and the IRS. Since July 13th, EAAECS and General Counsel have been following those directives.
Second, obtaining additional information to support the Report's findings was particularly important here because COVID-19 prevented the forensic auditor from being on-site at EAAECS and reviewing all relevant documents. Mr. Bedics expressly states in his report that:
(a) "It is cost prohibitive and not practical" to review all financial transactions;
(b) COVID-19 "limited the scope ofthe audit and [Mr. Bedics'] ability to continue gaining access to the school making it difficult to retrieve all records necessary to be reviewed and analyzed"; and
(c) He was unable to interview a number of employees who may have had knowledge because they had previously resigned or were terminated by the Board.
Thus, Mr. Bedics did the best he could with the information he was able to obtain under the circumstances. While EAAECS continues its investigation based on the information provided in the Report, and no conclusions have been reached thus far, the following are relevant findings specifically related to the Form 1099 matter that we do not believe Mr. Bedics had knowledge of:
1. When Charter Choices, EAAECS's business controller, was recently asked by EAAECS's General Counsel whether they had uncovered any fraudulent conversion of funds, they answered: "We have not."
2. When Buckno Lisicky, EAAECS's auditor, was recently asked by EAAECS's General Counsel ifthey had uncovered any fraudulent conversion of funds, they answered: "We did not detect any fraud in our annual audits."
3. Charter Choices recently provided to EAAECS the 2018 vendor transactions summary which did not reveal any evidence that the school actually spent $570,472.19 to PenTeleData.
4. EAAECS utilizes People's Security Bank & Trust Company ("PSBT"), a financial institution. A 2018 vendor transactions summary provided by Charter Choices included the net activities ofPSBT with the other vendors, though PSBT is not a vendor itself. An individual completing the 2018 Form 1099s who used this summary-and who viewed the entries in alphabetical order-would have seen PSBT directly underneath PenTeleData.
The amount currently indicated on this 2018 summary for PSBT is $570,777.19; this represents the net activity at the bank, not expenditures spent by the school. This amount is a difference of only $305 from the Form 1099 in question made out to PenTeleData. Charter Choices has explained to EAAECS that it is certainly possible that when an individual pulled this information from Quickbooks Online to complete the 2018 Form
1099s, the numbers could have been slightly different.
5. After July 13, 2020, when EAAECS began its internal investigation into the 1099 matter, an EAAECS employee voluntarily carne forward and informed EAAECS that they were the individual who put together the information for the 2018 1099s and that they must have mistakenly used the amount listed for PSBT on PenTeleData's Form 1099.
6. No findings thus far have confirmed that the school actually spent $570,472.19 inappropriately, or that these funds were otherwise misappropriated, embezzled, or fraudulently transferred.
7. EAAECS currently suspects that the Form 1099 in question was simply a clerical error, though, nonetheless, EAAECS will continue its investigation to ensure that public funds were appropriately used, including cooperating with authorities.
Third, we have been wanting to meet with Mr. Bedics to discuss his report since its receipt by the whole Board, and more recently to update him on these recent findings. Unfortunately, Mr. Bedics has been unavailable to discuss the report and only recently informed the Board on July
24th that he would soon have availability again to meet. We promptly scheduled a meeting upon learning this and will be meeting with him soon.
Please be aware that the Board thus far has not yet spoken to Mr. Bedics about the specific contents of his report, so it is unclear to us who erroneously advised him that the Board had a negative opinion of it, as he asserted in the July 27, 2020 article by Mr. Rudy Miller for Lehigh Valley Live: ghvalle live.com/news/2020/07/what-happened-to-a-half-million worth-of-taxpayer-dollars-easton-charter-school-auditor-sus pects-fraud.html
Whoever told Mr. Bedics this did not have authority by the Board nor did their misrepresentations to him reflect the Board's opinion of the Report. To the contrary, the Board greatly appreciates the work, findings, and recommendations of Mr. Bedics and seeks only to improve the processes and procedures of the school with the information he has provided. Regrettably, whenever internal confidential investigations such as these are published by the media, especially while it is still being processed by the organization, it invites opportunities from bad actors to take advantage and harm the organization. Without more information, we can only assume that Mr. Bedics was misinformed by such a bad actor.
While the Board has not yet had the opportunity to personally speak with Mr. Bedics about the Report's contents, EAAECS's General Counsel with Dr. Antonio recently sought his professional judgment on some of the new findings mentioned above. Our understanding is that Mr. Bedics will be reviewing and incorporating those findings into an updated report.
Fourth, the Report includes a number of other findings that largely reflect actions taken by the prior administration. The bulk of those individuals have resigned or were previously terminated by the Board. We appreciate the recommendations Mr. Bedics has provided regarding the Report's findings. EAAECS is in the process of strengthening its policies and procedures in response, as directed by the Board on July 13th. Where appropriate and possible, EAAECS will be rectifying past actions.
The Board has fiduciary duties to do what is best for EAAECS, which means doing what is best for EAAECS's students. We upheld such duties by promptly taking action in addressing the allegations made in the Report. We will continue to take all necessary action to resolve these outstanding matters, including cooperating with authorities. We will also continue to remain honest while dealing with all issues that come before us and will make all decisions with a goal to provide an exemplary education for EAAECS's students.
With the support of the taxpayers of Pennsylvania, it is the Board's intent to be good fiduciaries and to apply precious resources while guiding the education of nearly 400 students. We believe that the EAAECS has made great strides as it continues to work tirelessly for the children who populate our school. We have full faith in EAAECS's new administration and new Trustees to help guide EAAECS towards excellence.
We thank you for your continued support of the school and staff. If the Easton Arts Community has any questions or comments, please forward them to the Board's attention and we will try to address them in a timely fashion.
President, Board of Trustees
Easton Arts Academy Elementary Charter School
Easton Arts Academy
30 North 4th Street, Easton, Pennsylvania 18042
Phone (484) 546-4230 Fax (484) 276-5166
Dr. Chadwick Antonio
Chief Executive Officer
Dear Easton Arts Academy Students, Staff, Parents, Families, and Residents,
Welcome to another new school year at Easton Arts Academy Elementary Charter School. The 2020-2021 school year promises to be a wonderful year filled with learning, laughter and excellence in education. Easton Arts Academy is one of the premiere educational choices in Pennsylvania, offering a unique and personalized education for all. Since, I have learned that the tradition for excellence exists at the Easton Arts Academy and I wish to and want to thank the teachers, staff, administration, families, parents, students and community for their hard work and dedication. Thank you.
I want to thank the Board of Trustees for this opportunity to serve and lead in such a wonderful school and community. As a father of four children and the youngest of six children growing up in a hardworking, blue collar household I understand the value of a strong work ethic, integrity, family and community. I look forward to sharing those values in the upcoming school year as we retain the traditions of educational excellence, embrace our community and together forge ahead with innovative plans to bring you an even stronger Easton Arts Academy.
Recently, I have met and spoken with so many parents, families and community members and the response has been overwhelmingly positive for our teachers and staff members. I am extremely proud of our teachers, students, families and staff. Easton Arts Academy provides an innovative curriculum that is ideally suited for so many learners. We thank you for trusting us with your children and choosing us as your school.
This upcoming school year will provide its share of challenges for everyone but take comfort in knowing that we will be prepared and committed to serving you and your child with the very best educational environment regardless of the circumstances. Let me thank you for your support and understanding as we, as a nation and community, respond to the unexpected invasion of COVID-19. I am very proud of the way our students, parents, families, teachers, staff, and community leaders continue to handle the demands we face. As you know, there continues to be concerns and questions related to how schools plan to reopen. We will be proactive and prepared during these ever-changing times to continue educating our students if and when circumstances change. There are five basic scenarios we are evaluating and preparing for:
• Open with Social Distancing: Easton Arts Academy opens with significant social distancing requirements, including phased/reduced schedules.
• Fully Remote: Easton Arts Academy’s school building remains closed and remote learning
• Fully Open: Schools open with minimal or no social distancing requirements
• Hybrid: Easton Arts Academy opens intermittently, transitioning between brick-and mortar and remote learning.
• Flexible: A differentiated model to meet the needs of students, families, and staff who may be of heightened risk.
We have been working diligently on our reopening plan and look forward to having that out to you on or before July 29th. Additionally, we will be communicating regularly regarding the reopening in August and any other matters. There are so many improvements and positive changes coming your way this year, we couldn’t be more excited.
Please let your child or grandchild know, it’s going to be a wonderful school year and we are looking forward to seeing them. We wish you a happy, safe and peaceful summer. Thank you again for choosing Easton Arts Academy as your school of choice for your family.
Take good care,
Dr. Chadwick Antonio
It is our mission to provide a rich & comprehensive educational program for students in grades K-5. We do this by employing an intensive artistic immersion program. The rigorous & traditional academic program will be enhanced with rich, varied, weekly experiences in dance, instrumental music, visual art, vocal music, theatre & gymnastics. Each student will be provided with a broad introduction to the arts, in order to enhance their future academic success.
Every student will receive artistic training each school day. Students will receive training in all of the arts. No tryouts or auditions are required. However, students should demonstrate a special interest or enthusiasm for the arts. In accordance with state & charter law, all students residing in the state of Pennsylvania are eligible to apply.
“Everything has beauty in it, but not everyone sees it”
30 N. 4th Street
Easton, PA 18042
DR. Chadwick Antonio