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Charter school accused of having bawdy, after-hours parties

MIAMI — By day, the Balere Language Academy is an A-rated charter school, home to children in kindergarten through middle school.

But when the kids are tucked into bed, Balere apparently becomes a playground of a different kind.

Party fliers, printed and on the Web, indicate that the Miami campus has been hosting raunchy, alcohol-soaked bashes into the wee hours. One flier for an upcoming party features a voluptuous, scantily clad woman posing with champagne bottles. Another shows a woman in a string bikini bending over suggestively and a man with flashy jewelry sitting on a stack of currency in front of a gold sports car.

Asked if the school was hosting any parties, founder and principal Rocka Malik responded: "Not that I'm aware of."

School attorney Marlon Hill said Balere is investigating.

"The school takes this type of allegation very seriously and with the highest priority," he said, adding that it sublets the space to two churches on the weekends.

Parents at the school were the first to sound the alarm this week.

The school district received complaints from parents who wondered why there were empty beer bottles at their child's school. They also complained about a lingering smell of smoke — and those provocative party promotions advertising Push it to Da Limit Pt-1: The Flossin Edition.

On Thursday, the district sent the Language Academy a sternly worded letter reminding operators that the property is zoned to be a school and not a nightclub.

The complaint specifically called attention to the fliers.

"All advertisements include the promotion of alcoholic beverages in addition to inappropriate images for school-age children," deputy superintendent Freddie Woodson wrote.

There's little the district can do. Charter schools are funded by taxpayer dollars, but run by private or nonprofit boards independent of the school district.

Under state law, the district can close a charter school only if the school is in financial distress or has received a series of failing grades from the state Education Department.

Balere, which boasts a bilingual curriculum, did receive a failing grade in 2010, and was threatened with closure at that time. When the F turned into an A this past summer, the school got a reprieve.

Malik said people must be using the school's address in their advertisements but planning to hold the parties somewhere else.

If so, they've done it before.

The school district found advertisements for two other parties at the address that took place over the summer: the Elegant Birthday Bash and the Skinny B'Day Celebration.

Photos of both events were posted on Facebook and show hundreds of partygoers dancing in a large space and pouring alcohol in a cramped kitchen. The virtual photo albums say the events took place at the 10875 Quail Roost Drive, the address of the charter school.

Calls to the party promoter — Outlaw Skinny Promotions, which lists its address on Facebook at 10875 Quail Roost Drive — were not returned.

Hill, the school's attorney, said Balere had already delegated the staff to investigate claims that the school is doubling as a party palace at night.

He said the staff plans to visit the school over the weekend "to assess whether any unapproved activities are indeed taking place without the knowledge and notice of the school."

Charter school accused of having bawdy, after-hours parties 09/02/11 [Last modified: Friday, September 2, 2011 8:55pm]
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