stl college prep

Founder of St. Louis charter school sentenced to a year in prison for fraudulently receiving state funds

Feb. 8, 2021
Michael Malone founded St. Louis College Prep Charter School, which closed in 2019.

The founder of the defunct St. Louis College Prep Charter School has been sentenced to 366 days in prison and ordered to repay nearly $2.4 million in state funding obtained by falsifying student attendance.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Michael Malone pleaded guilty last year to to three felony counts of wire fraud. He admitted to reporting the inflated attendance figures in order to receive more state money.

According to his plea, in the 2016-2017 school year alone, Malone reported about 10,000 extra hours. The next year, he reported 13,255 extra hours.

Malone used the money for school expenses. The extra money gave the school an advantage over competitors. Each student recruited from the public schools meant less funding for that school system, his plea said.

When questioned by state officials, Malone made false statements to conceal the scheme, the plea states.

The school closed in 2019 after its sponsor, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, decided to pull its sponsorship. At the time, the school had some of the lowest test scores among St. Louis-area charter schools.

The school opened in 2011 as South City Preparatory Academy at 2900 South Grand Avenue until it bought a building at 1224 Grattan Street.

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