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Goodyear Charter School Principal Sentenced For Bilking State Education Funds

Published: Monday, September 14, 2020 - 4:38pm

The former principal of a shuttered Goodyear charter school was sentenced to nearly four years in prison for enrolling fake students to secure state and federal funds.

Harold Cadiz and two other top officials at the Bradley Academy of Excellence, formerly known as the Discovery Creemos Academy, conspired to forge birth certificates, driver's licenses, immunization records and test results to dupe the Arizona Department of Education, according to state prosecutors. 

Between 2016 and 2018, officials at the K-8 charter school enrolled hundreds of fake students. At times, the number of fake students far exceeded the schools’ actual enrollment. 

Arizona’s charter schools, like other public schools, receive state funds based on their enrollment.

“This resulted in over payments of more than $2.2 million from the Department of Education,” said Ryan Anderson, director of communications for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

Cadiz was also ordered to repay roughly $2.5 million to the state and the federal government, which also overpaid the school based on its faulty enrollment.

Former Vice Principal Joann Vega and former CEO Daniel Hughes are also responsible for the restitution payments.

“These are critical funds that could or should have otherwise been used by other schools and legitimate Arizona students,” Anderson said. “So this money will be repaid back to the state and will go back to be able to fund legitimate students and, in schools that actually are fulfilling their duties and performing here in Arizona.”

Vega and Hughes, who like Cadiz pleaded guilty to crimes related to the fake enrollment scheme, are scheduled to be sentenced in the coming weeks.