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Defunct St. Louis charter school founder gets a year in prison, must repay nearly $2.4M

Defunct St. Louis charter school founder gets a year in prison, must repay nearly $2.4M

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St. Louis College Prep

St. Louis College Prep Charter School in south city closed at the end of the 2018-2019 school year.

ST. LOUIS — The founder of the defunct St. Louis College Prep Charter School was sentenced Friday to 366 days in prison and ordered to repay nearly $2.4 million in state funding obtained by falsifying student attendance.

In the 2016-2017 school year alone, Michael Malone reported about 10,000 extra hours, his plea says. The next year, he reported 13,255 extra. 

Malone used the money for school expenses. The extra money gave the school an advantage over competitors, including the public school system. Each student recruited from the public schools meant less for that school system, his plea said.

When questioned by state officials, Malone made false statements to conceal the scheme, his plea said.

Malone, 44, pleaded guilty in August in U.S. District Court to three felony counts of wire fraud.

The school's sponsor, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, indicated in the spring of 2019 that it was pulling its sponsorship after identifying attendance discrepancies in September 2018. At the time, the school had some of the lowest test scores among St. Louis-area charter schools.

The school opened in 2011 as South City Preparatory Academy at 2900 South Grand Avenue until it bought a building at 1224 Grattan Street.

Robert Patrick • 314-340-8131

@rxpatrick on Twitter

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