The Florida Department of Education has taken action to suspend scholarships to four schools based on allegations of having “direct ties to the Chinese Communist Party” (CCP). This decision follows an investigation by the FDOE that concluded that Lower and Upper Sagemont Preparatory Schools in Weston, Parke House Academy in Winter Park, and Park Maitland School in Winter Park had connections to the CCP that posed a potential threat to students’ safety and the public.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a prominent figure in the Republican Party, emphasized the state’s firm stance against any influence by the CCP within its educational institutions. He stated, “The Chinese Communist Party is not welcome in the state of Florida. We will not put up with any attempt to influence students with a communist ideology or allow Floridians’ tax dollars to go to schools that are connected to our foreign adversaries.”
The Florida Department of Education is collaborating with nonprofit scholarship funding organizations to assist affected students in finding suitable alternative schools for enrollment. Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr., expressed gratitude for Governor DeSantis and the state legislature’s efforts to protect students and communities from potential foreign influences.
In response to the suspension, Sagemont Preparatory Schools, owned by Spring Education Group, stated that they had received notice without prior contact and were seeking further information about the decision. They pledged to work directly with families to ensure they could remain enrolled.
Earlier this year, Governor DeSantis signed SB 846 into law, which prevents schools affiliated with foreign countries of concern from participating in Florida’s school choice scholarship programs. The move is seen as part of broader efforts to safeguard the integrity of Florida’s education system and protect against foreign influence, particularly from the CCP. Spring Education Group, which owns the affected schools, has connections to Hong Kong and Chinese individuals, raising concerns about foreign ownership in education.