China’s Influence On Florida Schools: Unpacking Recent Developments

( – Florida has dropped four private preparatory schools from the state’s school choice scholarship program over their “direct ties” to China, CBS News reported.

In a statement on Friday, the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) announced that Governor Ron DeSantis ordered the Department of Education to suspend the scholarships after an FDOE investigation found that the schools have “direct ties to the Chinese Communist Party.”

The schools are Parke House Academy and Park Maitland School, both in Winter Park, and Weston’s Lower and Upper Sagemont Preparatory Schools.

The links to China “constitute an imminent threat to the health, safety, and welfare” of the students and public, the FDOE said.

Sagemont Preparatory School said it had not received prior notice about the suspension, the SunSentinel reported. Park Maitland and Parke House Academy also said they received no advanced notice.

All four schools are part of the Spring Education Group, which is controlled by the Hong Kong-based investment firm Primavera Holdings Ltd. Primavera Holdings has operations in China, Singapore, and the US.

During the 2022/23 school year, Sagemont Preparatory’s Lower and Upper schools received 66 scholarship students through the state’s school choice scholarship program. Tuition at the Sagemont schools is between $20,000 and $25,000 a year.

Some parents may no longer be able to send their children to the four private schools without the school choice scholarship program. In its statement, the FDOE said it is working with “non-profit scholarship funding organizations” to help the students impacted by the suspension find and enroll in eligible schools nearby.

In recent months, Governor DeSantis has enacted multiple education reforms targeting China, including banning TikTok on school servers and blocking the app on devices that access school WiFi.

Additionally, Florida colleges are not permitted to accept grants from China or participate in any partnership or agreement with a Chinese-based college or university.

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