The owners of a popular after school program wrapped up their last day of business on Friday after they say a new state rule forced to shut them down.
The new rule requires after school programs that offer instructional or tutorial services like tutoring or sports classes to get a child care license if they plan to provide meals, provide service beyond the instructional and tutorial materials, advertise as child care and or last longer than two hours.
Duane and Lauren Spires own Extreme Youth Sports and say they asked the county for help in seeing if they needed to get the license.
“They said you can become a child care facility or you guys can basically cease and decease you can close your programs,” said Duane Spires.
They also say employee there who did a courtesy inspection at their facilities said one of them did not meet proper requirements.
They say he told them they didn’t have enough outdoor space and would need to either find a new space or cut their attendance to 60, which they can’t afford to do.
“It’s sad and it’s unfair,” said Lauren Spires.
They say they found out about the situation in July and immediately contacted an attorney once they were told they didn’t meet requirements to see if they had any other options.
They announced their decision to close to parents the next day.
“We’re going to challenge these regulations because they’re just not fair,” said Spires.
Angela Chowning, the manager at the Hillsborough County Child Care Licensing Office tells a different story.
She says no one on her staff told the Spires they didn’t qualify and that they haven’t yet determined whether the couple could qualify for a different type of license, but that they chose to close before they even finished the process.
“I was surprised to see that they came to that determination so quickly,” she said.
She says she’s open to hearing them out.
“We would invite them, we would love for them to contact us again,” she said,” let's take a look and see if there are some other options.”
The Spires plan to find other options themselves and join with the handful of other business owners who say they’re in a similar situation.
They hope to reopen as soon as they can, offering parents a full refund in the meantime and continuing to give karate lessons while they wait.