Cape Coral preschool closes, displaces hundreds

Posted at 6:59 PM, Jan 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-30 18:59:47-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. -- Parents are seeking answers, Monday, as to why their child's preschool closed with no warning.

The Smallville preschool on Del Prado Boulevard, who accepts government PreK vouchers, sent out a notice, Friday, telling parents they would close down immediately. Now, hundreds of parents are scrambling to find other arrangements and are questioning how they could close so abruptly. Parent Brenda Cooper teared up, as she told Fox 4 how devastated she is that her son won't return to a school he knows and loves. "When I took my son to the new daycare for a trial run, his words were 'mommy don't leave me,' because he didn't even know where he was." she said. "It was scary, it was overwhelming, because I had my trust there."

Moving trucks were seen in front of the school on Monday. Parents said they've been seeing the trucks since last week. "Me and other parents were asking staff what's going on. They said, oh, we're getting new furniture," said Cooper.

She and hundreds of other parents had to miss work to find new day cares and transfer their vouchers. Cooper wishes the school would have notified parents, even just a week earlier, so she would have time to make other plans. "One of Smallville's requirements is that if you were to leave, you need to give a two weeks notice. Where is our two weeks notice? We were given hours notice. Not even."

Fox 4 went to Smallville Preschool to find out what was going on. The owner would not comment on record, but a release he sent to parents said they are leaving because the landlord is charging them rent far above market value and won't negotiate. The Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida told Fox 4 by contract, the school should have given parents a 30 day notice. "We understand when your costs are going to go up and skyrocket in the way that it was described, you have to take immediate action" said Susan Block, Chief Executive Officer at the ELC. "Unfortunately, Smallville was in the business of serving children and families, and somehow that has gotten lost in the way the program closed."

Block tells Fox 4 any parents who need to transfer their vouchers can do so easily by calling the ELC. They can also assist parents in finding preschools in the area. The ELC is giving families displaced from Smallville preschool priority. Their phone number is 239-935-6100. Or you can visit their website at: