Cape mom fights for students displaced by school closing


FORT MYERS, Fla. Maryann Devivo moved to Cape Coral with her family last year specifically so her daughter could attend a special needs school that has since closed.

Now Devivo is on a mission to get her daughter into the school of her choice, and to see that her classmates are accorded the same privilege.

Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida’s board of directors voted last month to shut down The Goodwill Life Academy, a charter school on 5100 Tice St., citing financial trouble.

“It’s a big disservice that its no longer available for our kids,” Devivo said.

Devivo and other parents had no idea of the financial difficulties until they received a letter dated May 16 from Rick Evanchyk, CEO of Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida. Rumors of the impending closure began to circulate after the letter informed parents of a meeting to discuss “the future direction of L.I.F.E. Academy.”

See the letter below:

The board voted to close the school at that meeting, leaving dozens of students in limbo. Lee County school district officials were on hand to assist parents in finding new schools.

“They told us that they were going to do anything that they could to help our children,” she said.

But Devivo’s daughter didn’t get into her first choice school.

I think that every child that was displaced by L.I.F.E. Academy by Goodwill should be placed in whatever educational program they see, their parents, see fit,” Devivo said. “And I might have been naive, but I thought that every child should’ve gotten their first choice that was displaced.”

Twenty-seven L.I.F.E. Academy students from this year are now enrolled in other schools, and 24 are still reviewing their choices, the school district. Three have chosen not to go to another school in the system.

The organization will continue until June 30 to try to come up with the $200,000 it would have needed to keep the school open. The board would consider reopening if that money is secured.


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