Art Rocker and his wife Angel made a fortune off creating schools that ran primarily on state voucher money, McKay Scholarship voucher program. They ran two schools in Pensacola, Bellview Junction Academy and S.L. Jones Academy. They had four others around the state. Angel Rocker died in 2003.
After allegations of mismanagement from former employees and complaints from angry parents, the Rockers gradually gave up control of the schools. The St. Petersburg Times wrote several investigative articles on them.
The schools were part of small churches in Pensacola, Tampa, Lakeland, Palatka and St. Petersburg. Belleview Junction was at St. Anne’s on Saufley Field Road. S.L. Jones was sponsored by Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church.
Here are some of the complaints, reported by the St. Petersburg Times:
Former employees question what happened to much of the $1.19- million in state money the Rockers received this school year (2002), and puzzle at the state’s lack of oversight of a program that will send about $25-million in tax dollars to private schools this year. “All I know is the money wasn’t going into the classroom,” said DiAnne Taylor, former principal at Bellview Junction Academy in Pensacola.
Former teachers, who were paid $10.50 an hour, say they spent their own money on food for students and books and supplies for their classrooms. “We went to the Santa Rosa County warehouse to get discarded books all the time,” said Heidi Burdess, a former teacher at Bellview.
The Escambia County Health Department ordered the Bellview school to stop feeding the children from the local food bank. Former food service director Lanita Duckworth said she “was relieved when I came to work and the kids weren’t dead from what we fed them the day before.”
These complaints weren’t unique. Read articles.
At the time Arthur Rocker claimed the problem was disgruntled employees. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated AJC 2000, their management company. FDLE forwarded its findings to the State Attorney’s Office, where prosecutors found no reason for further investigation.