Lakeland private school for children with special needs loses state funding

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – A private school in Lakeland for children with special needs is under scrutiny after losing state funding, at least for now.

“They never enrolled any student,” parent Tiffany Stafford told News Channel 8. She was shocked to hear it.

Stafford said she started asking questions when she found out teachers at Monarch School in Lakeland haven’t been paid. Stafford contacted the Department of Education for answers.

“I found out that the school was not in compliance. No money has been paid for my son’s scholarship, as well as no other child at the school,” Stafford said.

According to Press Secretary Audrey Walden, as of Thursday, the school, also known as AAA Monarch, has not submitted the required documentation for funding.

Now, all 67 students enrolled are in jeopardy of losing their funding.

“We have reached out to the school and strongly encouraged them to provide their families an update on their status. We informed the school that the deadline for the second quarterly scholarship payment is October 2, 2017, and if the school has not provided the documentation required to participate in the program and been determine eligible, no scholarship payments can be issued to families at the school,” Aubrey wrote in an email to News Channel 8.

Another parent, Lisa Booker said she removed her daughter from the school months ago and wants her money back.

“There was no cafeteria. I had to purchase canisters to keep her food warm. I had to bring chair for her to sit in, a desk, I even had to supply paper towels,” she said. “The special programs she qualified for, like speech, she never received.”

The school posted a statement on their Facebook page.

Stafford isn’t buying the statement, and has already enrolled her son in Pathways, a program at Southeastern University. She worries other parents won’t find out they lost their funding until it’s too late.

Pathways Principal John Taylor said they are adding additional staff to accommodate students that make the switch.

“In an effort to meet the recent need in our community and to address the current interest for new students attending Pathways, we are in the process of expanding our facilities by adding at least one additional classroom and staff. This is a critical time for the families because of the second quarter McKay Scholarship deadline coming, due on Monday, October 2. Families that are considering Pathways as a new school option should contact us as soon as possible,” Taylor said in an email to News Channel 8.

For additional information about Pathways call 863-667-5423.

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