Parents say Lakeland school witheld information about funding

- A local mother is furious with her son's school after learning the institution no longer qualified for a state scholarship program. And to make matters worse, she claims the school has kept parents in the dark about the whole thing.

“I no longer have to deal with the lies, the lip service, and someone else thinking it's okay to be putting my son's education at jeopardy,” said Tiffany Stafford. “We are shredding the negativity and the toxicity with those people.”

Tiffany Stafford explains her 16-year-old son has a mild case of autism, so she signed him up for a school named Monarch based in Lakeland.

She says the school was beneficial because they deal with kids who have special needs and work under a state-sponsored program called the McKay Scholarship.

Under the guidelines of the scholarship, parents can qualify for thousands toward educating their children which is then paid to the school.

“They didn't even tell me that there was an issue with the McKay Scholarship because of that it only left me a small window of time in order to find placement,” said Stafford.

She says it was just this week when she found out the school is now having problems qualifying for McKay. That problem impacts roughly 70 kids at the school. 

State officials say Monarch has not submitted the required documentation to be eligible for the program, and not qualifying means kids taking advantage of the scholarship now have to go elsewhere soon or risk losing their money.

“If I didn't find placement by Monday I lose my scholarship,” she said.

In a statement posted on their Facebook page, school officials said in part, “We have been in the process of restructuring, ensuring we are in compliance with the state of Florida.” Stafford, however, says she still isn't buying whatever the school is telling parents.

“They're being told everything's fine, everything's fine and to be honest my response is: Don't be drinking the Kool-Aid,” said Stafford.

This mother explains her son is now attending a program at Southeastern University and she says officials there are working with parents who had kids at Monarch to enroll at the university.

Here’s a link for more information, visit https://www.seu.edu/pathways/.

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