(News-Press) Daniel's Academy in south Fort Myers is closed today and under investigation by the Florida Department of Children and Families after its director was arrested yesterday for an outstanding warrant in Marion County.
The private Christian school's director, who was known at the school as Holly Hawkins, is actually a 49-year-old convicted felon named Christina Perera who is infamous in Georgia for similar misdeeds.
Lee County detectives arrested Perera Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m. pretending to be parents interested in getting a tour of the building, according to the sheriff's office. The officials shut down the place and contacted DCF when no employees were able to furnish proper documentation of the school.
DCF's preliminary investigation resulted in a litany of issues: no license to operate a child-care facility, misrepresentation of business ownership, unscreened employees, and no employment documentation.
DCF will have more available later this afternoon, a spokesperson said.
A criminal past
Perera, who is thought to be originally from Gainesville, has a long history of misdeeds in Marion County, where she has been convicted of four felonies: grand theft, organized fraud and depositing money with the intent to defraud.
But nowhere is Perera more well-known than Georgia.
In 2012, Perera broke her parole in Marion County and moved to Macon, Ga. to run the Progressive Christian Academy under false pretenses, the Ocala Star-Banner previously reported. Like Daniel's Academy, the school was shut down when officials realized she was a felon from Florida using an alias.
The Progressive Christian Academy scandal in Macon directly prompted the state to pass a new law to require nationwide criminal background checks on child day care center employees, the Macon Telegraph reported.
The Florida Department of Corrections lists Perera's known aliases as Christina Hawkins, Christine Larrocca, Christy LaRacco and Christina Perera, among others.
DCF said it has closed Daniel's Academy for the next 90 days, shutting the doors on 20 Southwest Florida families whose children attended the school.
Check back with the News-Press for more information as it becomes available
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