LAKELAND, Fla. (WTSP) -- The Monarch School in Lakeland is closed because of financial problems, leaving parents scrambling to find a new school for their kids.
The private school for children with special needs had about 60 or 70 students.
“That's what I did all day Thursday and Friday is research schools after school after school,” Crystall Spell said. “I'm emotionally exhausted from dealing with this.”
Spell's 6-year-old daughter Grace has autism and has been going to Monarch for several months. She suspected the school might close soon, so she switched her to another school already.
Others, however, showed up Tuesday and found a note on the door.
“I really hated that it closed, because these teachers have relationships with the children, and the children have been doing well there,” Spell said.
Another parent, Brittany Lesnett, is having a hard time explaining to her son Grant why he can't go back.
“This morning alone, he said, 'Mommy, why did I get kicked out of another school?' And that just broke my heart because he didn't get kicked out,” she explained.
Parents said the school is closing because it missed a deadline for state funding through the McKay Scholarship Program. 10News tried to track down Randy Coggins, the pastor who ran the school, but had no luck.
However, 10News did find court documents charging Coggins with stealing about $8,000 worth of food stamp and Medicaid benefits earlier this year. He pleaded to a lesser charge.
“Our kids are victims, but these teachers are also victims and they loved our children,” Lesnett said.
She said the teachers haven't been paid since August. She's started a GoFundMe to raise money for them.
“Some of them didn't have food to eat, and we didn't realize they were starving,” she explained.
The Lakeland Police Department isn't formally investigating misuse of money at the school, but they're asking anyone with information to contact them.