State Road, North Carolina – A new investigative report from the State Auditor’s Office indicates that a North Carolina charter school falsified student records and misappropriated school funding.
The report says the state auditor’s office received tips through its hotline accusing Bridges Academy of questionable tax reporting, using school funds to support a preschool and overreporting student enrollment. at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
Key findings of the state auditor’s investigation include:
- Bridges Academy falsified student enrollment records to obtain $404,971 in state funding it would otherwise not qualify for.
- Bridges Academy diverted $78,576 from charter school funding to support a preschool.
- Bridges Academy failed to prepare and submit required 1099 tax forms in 2019 and 2020, resulting in underreported compensation of $489,534.
The state auditor said the DPI should seek reimbursement of misappropriated funds.
Bridges Academy, located on State Road in Wilkes County near the Virginia line, closed in June. Prior to its closure, the school had 171 students in kindergarten through eighth grade for the 2021-22 school year.
In a letter to parents, school officials said they were considering “rebuilding” the school’s management team, starting in April, by bringing in an outside consultant.
That consultant, in a review, found “irregularities in the school’s operations,” the letter said. Shortly thereafter, the state auditor’s office opened a separate investigation into the school.
Bridges Academy opened in 1996 and is one of the oldest charter schools in the state.
WRAL education reporter Emily Walkenhorst contributed to this report.