Liberty Justice Center Fights for Transparency as Florida DOE Suspends Scholarships, Alleging Ties Between Schools and Chinese Communist Party

October 11, 2023

The Liberty Justice Center announced that on October 10, it filed a request for all records relating to the Florida Department of Education’s (FDOE) recent decision to suspend school choice scholarships to four schools, based on the allegation that the schools have “direct ties” to the Chinese Communist Party and “constitute an imminent threat to the health, safety, and welfare of these schools’ students and the public.”

The press release issued by the FDOE does not provide any details on the investigation leading to this decision.

“It is essential that government agencies operate with transparency and accountability—particularly when making decisions that have far-reaching consequences for educational institutions and the students they serve,” said Educational Freedom Attorney Dean McGee. “Given the significant impact of this decision, it is incumbent upon the FDOE to provide a more comprehensive and detailed account of the basis for the suspensions.”

The four schools affected by the decision are Parke House Academy, Park Maitland School, and the Lower and Upper Sagemont Preparatory Schools. Together, they serve students ranging from preschool to twelfth grade and are some of Florida’s top-rated private schools. The schools are part of Spring Education Group, a network of over 200 private schools across the U.S. and Asia. According to the group’s website, it is controlled by Primavera Holdings Limited, a Hong Kong-based investment firm owned by Chinese persons.

Several of the schools’ headmasters have issued statements disputing the FDOE’s allegation.

“Despite the recent claims, Park Maitland school does not have ties to the Communist Party of China or any other government,” said Michael Anna, head of Park Maitland, in an email to parents.

Similarly, Mellesia Nelson, head of Sagemont Preparatory School, stated to news outlets, “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.”

The Liberty Justice Center has formally requested that the Florida Department of Education provide an account of the basis for its decision to suspend school choice scholarships to the schools, including all public records related to the decision, under the Florida Public Records Act.

The Liberty Justice Center is committed to fighting for transparency and accountability in all levels of government.

A copy of the letter filed by the Liberty Justice Center is available here.


For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact us.