Notes: Life Skills press conference

White Hat Management is asking Life Skills Center in Pensacola for over $580,000 in unpaid fees and balances.

An attorney representing Life Skills Center’s local board of directors said White Hat employees failed to reconcile a discrepancy in the contract between the two parties and said his clients
are ready to sue for damages in the neighborhood of $245,000.

Life Skills Center Escambia County, a state-funded charter school that serves about 180 at risk students between 16 and 21, is about $250,000 in the hole according to numbers compiled last month.

White Hat representatives said their company hasn’t been paid for its services to the school in four months and it will terminate its contract with the school June 30.

“We have not received payment for several months,” said Rodd Coker with White Hat. “We will not continue to operate under that situation. We can terminate our contract after 14 days, but we are committed to operating this center until June 30.”

Attorney Scott Remington, who represents Life Skills Center, said the problem originated in December of last year when the center’s board of directors reportedly asked White Hat to amend their contract, allowing for the operation of a child care center.

Remington claims the management company, which is responsible for campus maintenance, employee benefits and salaries among other things, never responded to their request and then “grossly underreported the number of children in the childcare program.”

Remington said that clerical error lead to the school receiving less money. Remington then asked White Hat to waive the arbitration clause in their current contract because the act of arbitration might impede the school board’s mission to operate within Florida Sunshine Law.

To add to the financial woes of the center, the 2008 budget was balanced at $2 million, but the school only received a little over $1 million due to fewer registrants than previously expected.

At their board meeting on April 25, Life Skills Center’s Board of Directors seemed determined to move forward without the help of White Hat.

Board President John Wyche said he’s received phone calls from multiple companies willing to step in and operate the school the day after White Hat pulls out.

Although rumors of the board removing Wyche had circulated before the April 25 meeting, no such action was discussed. Instead, the board voted to install Johnny Wilson as interim treasurer until an adequate replace can be found. The board also agreed to hire a CPA to perform an audit on the school’s finances.