Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning has reopened an investigation into One World Academy.
The now defunct foreign language immersion private school in south Forsyth has left parents out tens of thousands of dollars in advance tuition payments after announcing in July that it would not reopen this year.
Spokesman Reg Griffin said the department’s child care services division has met with parents of children formerly enrolled at the school.
“The department heard concerns from the parents, at their request, that the former child care program operated without a license earlier this year,” he said. “Based on the information presented, DECAL has reopened its investigation into One World Academy.
“Because this is an open investigation, we cannot comment further at this time. At DECAL, our top priority is the health and safety of our state’s young learners, ages birth to 5 years old.”
The academy opened in April after changing names from the North Atlanta International Academy and moving from its Peachtree Parkway location.
Parents, including Craig Troy, said the school left its old location over spring break and reopened on Trammell Road when students returned. It then operated as normal through the end of the school year in May, though the state never approved the school’s application for a license, which was required when switching locations.
Troy, who paid more than $6,000 in tuition for his daughter for the 2013-14 school year, said he and other parents are working with the department for the investigation.
If it’s determined that the school was operating without a license, state statute says the “person operating an early care and education program without a license shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”
In this case, that person would be Christina Crumbley, who was the director of both One World and North Atlanta International academies.
Crumbley, then Christina Bunker, also was the director of another school, Language Discovery Academy, which dissolved in 2010 after failing to pay about $43,000 in rent.
Forsyth County State Court Judge Russell McClelland ordered the school to pay back that money plus 10 percent interest.
Crumbley faces a similar situation now, with another judge ruling against North Atlanta International Academy, ordering it to pay Georgia Commerce Bank $81,000 in unpaid lease and late fees, plus more than $12,000 in attorney fees, none of which have been paid.
If found to have been operating One World Academy without a license, Crumbley faces fines of between $50 and $200 for each day of operation without a license.
“To the money allegedly owed to the parents by the owner of the school, that is a matter for law enforcement,” Griffin said.
Noting that the parents’ complaints were about Crumbley and not the academy to which they paid tuition, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office determined last month that the issue was a civil, not a criminal, matter.
“All of us are considering a civil suit,” Troy said of the parents, adding that they haven’t given up on the possibility of criminal charges.
Attempts to reach Crumbley by phone were not successful. She has previously denied that she’s involved in the matter personally, contending instead that the parents’ complaints against her are unfounded.