Plato Academy Schools severs ties with management company

The news comes less than a year after the company’s CEO died suddenly while vacationing in Costa Rica.
Plato Academy Clearwater, shown here, and eight other Plato schools in the Tampa Bay area have severed ties with management company Superior Schools. [Times, 2014]
Plato Academy Clearwater, shown here, and eight other Plato schools in the Tampa Bay area have severed ties with management company Superior Schools. [Times, 2014]
Published April 15

The Plato Academy charter school system, which includes nine schools in the Tampa Bay area, has terminated its contract with management company Superior Schools.

The announcement came Friday, according to letters by Plato Academy principals, after the five-member Plato governing board voted to terminate its contract with Superior.

The letters suggest the quality of the company’s services had diminished since June, when its CEO Steve Christopoulos died suddenly at 59 while vacationing with family.

RELATED: Superior Schools leader Steve Christopoulos dies in Costa Rica

Jenny Tsantilas, who stepped in to lead Superior after his death, did not return an email and multiple calls for comment Monday. Calls to the company itself went unanswered.

“Unfortunately, based upon the performance of Superior since the passing of Superior’s founder ... the Plato Board voted today to immediately terminate its relationship with Superior,” Plato Academy Clearwater principal Adam Beard wrote in a letter to parents Friday.

Of the five board members, only Dagmar Ortiz gave a brief comment.

“There were so many agreement breeches,” she said. “The agreement was not followed, and there were violations on the agreement.”

Board members Louis Kokkinakos and John Petalas declined to comment, referring a reporter to board Chairman Elisa Kolettis. Kolettis did not return calls to his office, personal phone or Plato email address.

Chris Alahouzos, the mayor of Tarpon Springs who serves on the board and was a close friend of Christopoulos, did not return two calls for comment. Rick Wolfe, who oversees charter schools for the Pinellas County school district, deferred comment to Plato.

A letter posted to a newsletter website by Plato Pinellas Park principal Tonia Cunningham told parents not to worry. Families and students will see “very little change, if any at all," she said.

“The termination of Superior Schools only impacts the business management of the schools,” Cunningham wrote. “These roles will simply transition to the schools, and support staff will be added as needed."

MORE: Parents worry as Plato Academy Trinity appears unable to open for classes on time

Times senior researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Megan Reeves at mreeves@tampabay.com. Follow @mareevs.

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