Allegations of Communist Party Ties Prompt Florida School to Bolster Security

The partnerships with local police and deployment of more security officers follows allegations by Ron DeSantis that the schools have direct ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

Allegations of Communist Party Ties Prompt Florida School to Bolster Security

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Orange County, Florida – Officials at Park Maitland School said they are adding more campus security measures following Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suspending school choice scholarships for students attending the school.

On Friday, DeSantis announced that he has “directed the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) to suspend the availability of school choice scholarships to four schools that have direct ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).” One of those campuses is Park Maitland. The other three are Lower and Upper Sagemont Preparatory Schools in Weston, and Parke House Academy in Winter Park.

DeSantis said the schools’ “connections constitute an imminent threat to the health, safety, and welfare of these school’s students and the public.”

“The Chinese Communist Party is not welcome in the state of Florida,” he said in a press release. “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.”

In a letter sent to parents, Park Maitland School officials said they are partnering with local police for additional support. More security officers will also be patrolling the campus, reports WFTV.

All four of the campuses impacted by the order from DeSantis are owned by Spring Education Group, which is controlled by Primavera Holding Limited, an investment firm principally based in Hong Kong with operations in China, Singapore, and the U.S., reports CBS News Miami. It is owned by Chinese persons living in Hong Kong. Spring Education group is a network of 220 private schools across the U.S. and Asia, reports the Argus Leader.

An international law professor contacted by CBS News Miami said that foreign control doesn’t mean there is political involvement. He also said the state of Florida hasn’t provided evidence that there is Chinese influence at the schools.

Sagemont head of school Mellesia Nelson said in a statement sent to USA TODAY that: “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.”

Florida’s school choice program gives $8,500 vouchers to K-12 students attending private schools. Annual tuition at Sagemont Preparatory’s two campuses runs from $20,000 to $25,000.

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About the Author

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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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