Florida: Agape Christian Academy May Lose Eligibility for Vouchers

Agape Christian Academy in Pine Hills, Florida, may be cut out of three different voucher programs because of its failure to meet state requirements.

Most of the students in the school receive vouchers, and the school may be forced to close. The state Department of Education has revoked its eligibility for voucher funding.

For its failure to comply with the state’s demands, the school has been ruled ineligible to receive vouchers for ten years.

Classes resume in public schools and many private schools in Orange County on Monday. DOE called and sent letters to the families of the 40 children who planned to use the McKay scholarship at Agape this year, saying they could transfer their children to a public school or another private school, or they could keep their children at Agape without the scholarship.

“If you choose for your student to remain enrolled at Agape Christian Academy, it is imperative that you understand you will not be receiving scholarship payments,” Laura Mazcyk, the director of scholarship programs and home education, wrote in the letter to families.

Patrick Gibbons, a spokesman for Step up for Students, which administers the Florida Tax Credit and Gardiner scholarships, said the organization had spoken with or left voicemails for the families of all 84 students who planned to use the scholarship at Agape this year.

“It is unfortunate that this happened so close to the start of the school year,” Gibbons wrote in an email.

The school has a history of run-ins with the Department of Education. During the past three years, Agape has failed fire inspections, taken money for a student who was not attending class and submitted required test scores late, records show.

In March 2016, the state suspended scholarship payments after DOE saidAgape falsified fire inspection reports on at least two occasions. A deal was reached a few months later to restore them.

In 2015 and 2016, the school submitted letters they purported were compliant fire inspections from Orange County Fire Rescue. But officials from the fire department said they did not generate the letters. The school had failed at least four fire inspections for various reasons, including having a fire alarm system that didn’t work and exits that were obstructed, according to records.

It is surprising to see that Florida is actually maintaining some standards for voucher schools. But the state’s action should be a warning to religious schools that the state may pull the plug if they don’t comply with what the state wants.

from novemoore http://ift.tt/2hO40Wr

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