ORLANDO, Fla. — Park Maitland School said Saturday that it does not have any connection to the Communist Party of China and does not know why Florida yanked it from participating in its school voucher programs claiming it had “direct ties” to the Chinese leadership.
“We were not contacted in advance and are seeking more information regarding the basis for this decision,” the school said in an emailed statement to the Orlando Sentinel on Saturday. “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.”
Winter Springs parents Joslyn and David Bear have two children at Park Maitland, both using state scholarships this year to help cover some of their tuition costs. They were surprised and upset by the state’s action against a school that they both attended as children and that has a reputation for providing an “outstanding” education.
“Their education has nothing to do with communism or Chinese ideology,” Joslyn Bear said. “Both of our children receive Florida Empowerment Scholarships, one of them because she has special needs. To pull their school from the scholarship program will disrupt my children’s and their classmates’ educational experience and emotional stability for no legitimate reason whatsoever.”
David Bear said his family can afford to keep their children at Park Maitland even without the scholarships, which on average cover about $10,000 for a child with disabilities and about $8,000 for others. The family has a daughter in kindergarten and a son in second grade.
But some families, he said, may not be so fortunate and may have enrolled children at Park Maitland, where tuition tops $20,000 a year, because this year they qualified for state scholarships that could help cover some of the bills. Florida recently expanded eligibility in its voucher programs so that scholarships once targeted to low-income youngsters or those with disabilities are now open to all students.
Bear said the state’s action in late September could leave parents with few other options for their children, if they cannot remain at Park Maitland. “It’s not fair,” he said.
In a message to parents on Saturday, Michael Anna, the head of school, also denied the school had any inappropriate connections.
“Despite the recent claims, Park Maitland school does not have ties to the Communist Party of China or any other government,” that message read.
Park Maitland — long viewed as one of Central Florida’s top-rated private schools — was working with families affected by the state’s decision, Anna said in his statement.
©2023 Orlando Sentinel. Visit orlandosentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.