South Florida

Parents Paid Hundreds of Dollars for Swim Lessons Before School Closed

In online promotional videos, United States Swim Academy in Coral Springs stressed the importance of teaching children how to swim. It’s something Felipe Arango and Libia Rojas believed in, so they signed up their daughters for lessons there.

“She was happy all the time with the classes and with the teacher,” Felipe Arango told NBC 6 Responds.

Rojas said her daughter also enjoyed going to the facility for lessons for the past three years.

In October, Rojas said she started receiving offers for discounted lessons. Like several other parents, Rojas said she decided to take advantage of the savings and paid $500 for 20 lessons – even though she and other parents say they started noticing concerning changes at the academy.

“She was seeing everything was maybe dirtier, or that maybe some time that the teachers or the coaches didn’t come to class,” Arango said his wife told him.

Then his wife received an unexpected email, in which the owner of the academy, Karen King, said “…serious unforeseen circumstances have caused the closure of United States Swim Academy until further notice.”

“It was crazy because she didn’t say [it] to anybody,” Arango said. “Nobody expected that.”

Arango drove to the academy and found a note on the door confirming what was written in the email.

“She just wrote like three lines with a pen saying 'I’m sorry,'” Arango said.

Neither Arango nor Rojas ever heard from King again.

NBC 6 Responds learned the academy has declared bankruptcy and, according to a complaint, also owes more than $6,000 to an employee who said the company paid her salary in February and March using bad checks.

King declined our request for comment and her attorney told NBC 6 anyone who is owed money should list themselves as a creditor in the bankruptcy case.

A total of three parents contacted NBC 6 Responds, including Rojas and Arango. All three used credit cards to pay for the lessons, so they were able to dispute the charges and get their money back that way.

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