PHOENIX - The office of Arizona's governor says it plans to resolve a case where a Phoenix parent says she has been unable to spend a cent from a $10 million fund that was created before the start of the school year.
She says she's not the only one who hasn't seen the money.
You might remember the fund was about keeping schools open amid the COVID-19 pandemic. $7,000 was set aside for families who wanted to switch from public school to charter or private school to avoid mask mandates and school closures.
Brittani Fiorucci did exactly that, but so far she says she hasn't been able to spend any money. She says the switch was made because home learning was too hard on her first and second-graders.
"Trying to learn online to read was very difficult, and I was panicked going into a new year, and I was like, here we go again. They’re talking about shutting it down or not opening or opening part-time and I kind of panicked," Fiorucci said.
In summer 2021, Governor Doug Ducey announced a $10 million Educational Recovery Benefit. Families would get $7,000 to switch a student from public schools to private or charter schools.
"I saw it as an opportunity," Fiorucci said. "It’s a one-time grant. Let’s give it a shot, try something different."
They went from a school down the street to Great Hearts Academy, a charter school located miles away. There’s no tuition, but expenses added up.
"I think each shirt is 25 bucks, and bottoms are like $40," Fiorucci said. In total, $1,400 dollars on uniforms, $600 in lunches.
After months of trying, she says there's still no way to be reimbursed. "At this point, I’m not getting anything, nobody else is getting anything. It’s going to be June 30 and then it’s going to be done," she said.
The governor's announcement said the money can be used for "education-related expenses," and just weeks ago, the governor announced another multi-million dollar program that says families can be reimbursed for school supplies.
"It’s been five months of back and forth answers," the mother said.
After FOX 10 reached out, the governor's spokesperson said in a statement: "We are working with Great Hearts Academies and ClassWallet, the software company distributing the funds, to ensure students and parents can take full advantage of the Educational Recovery Benefit Program. In the meantime, ClassWallet will directly reimburse parents, including Brittani, for all eligible expenses."
Keep in mind, this money has to be spent by June 30, or it goes back to the state of Arizona.
Great Hearts also added that they’re aware of Fiorucci's issue and are working with the governor's senior staff on "a solution for Great Heats Academies' students and other charter school students as well."
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