Parents won't be reimbursed for school tuition

Posted at 11:19 PM, Mar 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-17 13:09:14-04

FORT PIERCE, Fla. -- Parents who had students at the Sign With Me Christian Academy in Fort Pierce still want to know: where did their money go?

The school was located in the Midway Road Church of Christ before it suddenly closed in 2014.

That summer, church leaders told WPTV the owner of the school, Bonnie Hebb, wasn't making regular or full rent payments.

At the beginning of the school year in the summer of 2014, Hebb told parents the school would be closing and she was filing bankruptcy.

A letter from Hebb's attorney, Joshua Hauserman, said parents could file claims in bankruptcy court to be reimbursed.

Nearly a year and a half later, the bankruptcy case has closed. Parents will not be getting any reimbursement.

In an email from Hauserman, he explained why parents will not be given back any money.

...the trustee found there to be no value in the items belonging to the school as this was a bankruptcy for the school. I am not privy to Ms. Hebb's personal assets nor affairs but she is not personally liable for the business' failure. As for the "assets" that were appraised, I was not at the school and can only speculate what was left. That being said, the trustee did an incredibly thorough job administering this case and had anything of value been discovered the families would have been given the opportunity to be made whole or receive a portion of their losses.

Some parents say their losses exceed $15,000.

Thomas Miller paid $4,500 to send his two kids to the school. He says they had only been in class for one week when Hebb made the announcement to close.

Miller says it was a shock. He knew the school had a good reputation for education. He had family who taught at the school in the past.

?"It's with a church. It's with a school that our family had worked with. I would have never guessed it?," Miller said.

Miller says Hebb offered him a discount if he paid the day he signed up with cash. He said he gave her $1,000, and paid the remainder with money orders.

Other parents say they were also offered a "scholarship" that would allow them to have a discount if they also paid in cash.

?"I've always wondered where it all went. Like, what happened with all that?"? said Miller.

Miller says parents also paid additional money for iPads in the classroom.

Not only was Miller out thousands of dollars, he then had to pay tuition at another new school.

Hebb said in 2014 that the money was spent honestly on costs related to overhead, supplies and payroll.

Hebb has also filed bankruptcy for previous schools she owned.

The St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office has been investigating if there was any criminal activity in how money was used that was designated for the Sign With Me Christian Academy.

A Public Information Officer for the Sheriff's Office says detectives are struggling to find Hebb and get back in touch with her. She has moved from her previous address.

Detectives want to question her further about her finances.

If you know Hebb's whereabouts, you're asked to call detectives at 772-462-3230.