TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Education suspended scholarships for four schools in the state with “direct ties to the Chinese Communist Party,” according to state officials on Friday.
A release from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office states that FDOE investigators claimed the following four schools have ties to the CCP:
- Lower Sagemont Preparatory School — Weston
- Upper Sagemont Preparatory School — Weston
- Parke House Academy — Winter Park
- Park Maitland School — Maitland
According to the release, the alleged connections “constitute an imminent threat to the health, safety, and welfare of these schools’ students and the public.”
In a statement to News 6 on Saturday, an FDOE spokesperson said that the four schools were targeted due to their affiliation with Spring Education Group and Primavera Holdings. The spokesperson pointed to text on Sagemont.com that reads, “Spring Education Group is controlled by Primavera Holdings Limited, an investment firm (together with its affiliates) principally based in Hong Kong with operations in China, Singapore, and the United States, that is itself owned by Chinese persons residing in Hong Kong.”
No further information has been provided about the nature of those connections at this time, aside from how the spokesperson stated Saturday that Florida had verified them.
A spokesperson from Sagemont Preparatory School provided News 6 with the following statement on Saturday:
We have received notice from the State that our eligibility for Florida Choice school funds has been suspended. We were not contacted in advance and are seeking more information regarding the basis for this decision. In the meantime, we will be working directly with our families to ensure they can remain enrolled in our school.
We are regularly acknowledged as one of the best private schools in our area and have a track record of delivering outstanding educational outcomes, which is why parents choose us. Our schools are locally run, abide by local, state and federal laws, and do not have ties to any government or political party, either foreign or domestic. Our curriculum is accredited, standards-based and academically rigorous.Sagemont Preparatory School
“The Chinese Communist Party is not welcome in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said in a statement. “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.”
.@EducationFL has found four schools that have direct ties to the CCP. We are suspending them from Florida’s school choice scholarship programs, effective immediately.— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) September 22, 2023
We will not allow Florida’s tax dollars to go to schools with connections to adversarial foreign nations.
Earlier this year, DeSantis signed SB-846 into law, which prohibits schools affiliated with a foreign country of concern from participating in Florida’s school choice scholarship programs.
As a result, DeSantis directed the FDOE to suspend the availability of school choice scholarships to those four schools, state officials explained.
In the meantime, the FDOE is working with nonprofit scholarship funding groups to help impacted students find and enroll in nearby eligible schools, the release states.
DeSantis has been a vocal critic of the CCP and has pushed for policies to limit the group’s influence in the state, such as banning the purchase of farmland by the CCP and restricting the use of apps such as TikTok on government-issued devices.
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