To: Mr. Todd Ulrich
Universal Christian Academy, established 2005 by Maikel Arias, is a private school serving students in grades 9 through 12. UCA is registered with the Florida Department of Education as a nonpublic school and is accredited by Green Apple Association of Christian Schools.
The unique thing about UCA is that it targets at-risk youth from ages 16 and up who have dropped out of school or are on the verge of dropping out of school. It provides an alternative learning environment, through hands-on, one-on-one, teacher directed, and independent learning methods for the students. Students undergo a rigorous process of completing high school graduation credits which include: 4 credits of Math, 4 credits of Language Arts, 2 credits of Foreign Language, 5 credits of Science, 5 credits of Social Studies, 4 credits of Electives, and English as a Second Language.
The program was designed to assist at risk youth in redeveloping their learning skills to prepare them for adult life and the workforce. UCA graduates have gone on to serve in the military and or enroll in accredited Colleges and Universities throughout the State of Florida including but not limited to Keiser University, ITT Technical Institute, Pensacola Christian College, Valencia Community College, University of Tampa, University of Central Florida, etc
Since new FAFSA regulations have changed I have noticed, our school graduates are experiencing increasing scrutiny as they apply for college. Some of this, I believe, has to do with recent changes in the Federal financial aid regulations. In part, they require colleges to determine the "validity" of high school diplomas. At some point, the USDOE will be compiling a list of "valid" high schools. If a student checks high school diploma, and the school he names is not on the DOE's list, the college will red-flag that FAFSA and will investigate whether the issuing high school is legitimate or invalid high school
These regulations were instituted in late 2011 and I believe colleges are still trying to decide how to deal with this and are choosing to consider only accredited school graduates. I think this "approved list" idea will be problematic because how will your college determine validity?
In any event, whenever UCA have a high school grad with a college denying admission, we would like to summit any documentation that will satisfy colleges' evaluation procedures, the following information is to review and verify our school credentials.
Universal Christian Academy is a duly constituted private school in the State of Florida. Florida law does not require private schools to be accredited, but does require them to be registered. Students attending a private school are exempt from compulsory attendance at a public school.
The following are the answers to your questions, please feel free to ask me as many as you need for you to understand our school service to our community
- Does Valencia Community College recognize the diploma from the school? If so, is there a contact at Valencia you can recommend?
Valencia Community College had accepted our students since we opened in 2005, Valencia Community College have denied our students' admission since late 2011 without any valid reason, our school is been discriminated against. Universal Christian Academy complies with all the requirements as prescribe by the Florida Department of Education as a private school.
Universal Christian Academy and Green Apple Association of Christian Schools are gathering documentation to fight in court this case of discrimination. Please note that colleges now have to evaluate the validity of the high school diploma from private school and that Valencia College have not evaluated our high school diploma and refuse without any valid reason to accept our students.
- What colleges, tech schools, or universities in Central Florida do recognize the certificate?
The colleges that are accepting our high school graduates are; Keiser University, Florida National University, Med-Life Institute, Carrier Training Center, ITT Technical Institute, Pensacola Christian College, Berry White University, Florida Institute of Animal Arts, TECO Paths, etc. As soon as more schools began to validate our high school diploma, more school will accept our graduates.
- These students claim they were told by school officials they diplomas would be recognized---is that the case?
When students register at Universal Christian Academy they have to sign an agreement stating the acceptance of our diploma will be subject to the requirements of the receiving educational institution or employer, we have been given our student such information in writing and verbally.
- They are requesting refunds---can they get their money back?
As I have stated in the previous question; when our students register at UCA they must sign an agreement explaining to them the payment made are not refundable.
Thank you for taking your time to know our side of this story.
Maikel R. Arias
Universal Christian Academy
3479 West Vine St.
Kissimmee, Fl 34741
Universal Christian Academy response to Action 9's Todd Ulrich
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