Action 9 Investigates Virtual High School



OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - Several students claim a local school that offers high school classes online gave them worthless diplomas.

Instead of earning a high school diploma, Donferd Metayer said he hit a dead end.

"It was just a huge waste of time, a huge waste of money," said Metayer.

Metayer said he responded to an offer for a high school diploma, in months, from a local virtual school.        

He said he paid $600 , as did another student who didn't want to be identified.

"I don't think it's really a diploma," said the student.

The virtual school is Universal Christian Academy  in Kissimmee.        

Marie Larione also paid $600 for several months of online instruction and tests.

Like the other students, Marie said the school promised its diploma would be accepted at any college she applied to.

"They said Valencia, any universities, wherever you want to go, it would be good," said Larione.

But every student WFTV's Todd Ulrich talked to said their diplomas were rejected.

Karen Varney is a guidance counselor at Osceola County schools.

"I feel like they're misleading students," said Varney.

She said many victims turned to the public schools after their Universal Christian Academny diplomas were rejected.

"Yeah, it's a slap in the face. They can't go to college. Now they have to start over again," said Varney.

The Academy's owner is out of town, but by email said federal financial aid rules changes forced colleges to reject schools not on a pre-approved list.

He said many colleges accepted Universal's diplomas before 2011. And, he said, students are told upfront their degrees could be rejected and that tuition is non-refundable.



READ: Universal Christian Academy's response to Todd Ulrich


"But they keep the money, they will not give the money back," said Maria Larione.


Universal Christian is accredited by the Green Apple Association, which told us the school is under review for not responding to a recent audit.