Parent Says She Was Misled By Stepping Stones Learning Center

Parent Says She Was Misled By Stepping Stones Learning Center

Vincenzo Marino

Storey Lantry Chavira says it was bad enough to see her severely injured son, allegedly beaten at the hands of an administrator at Stepping Stones learning center last week. But what she has learned since about the learning center, angers her even further.

“I was also told that upon exit, upon completion of the program, that they would be given the equivalent to a high school diploma,” said Chavira.

“It’s not a school, it’s a learning center.”

Apparently, that is not true. The California Department of Education says, Stepping Stones never filed a affidavit with the state in 2017 or 2018, a requirement for any school. KMIR reached out to Stepping Stones Executive Director Darrin Erb to ask about the centers accreditation.

“It’s not a school, it’s a learning center,” said Erb.

The state tells KMIR that Stepping Stones was listed as a private school twice, in 2011 and 2015. Both times it shut down. Chavira says she did not know that. 

“This was a school, I was assured they would exit with the equivalent to a high school diploma,” said Chavira.

But that apparently is not the case. In fact, Stepping Stones tells KMIR that it only provides counseling and tutoring, and works with charter schools which could provide diplomas.

However, KMIR learned the Palm Springs Unified School District denied Stepping Stones petition for a charter, twice. Siting reasons like, “the charter school presents an unsound educational program” and “the petitioners are demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the program set forth in the petition.”

Erb claims to work with several charter schools but would not disclose which ones.

“The learning center is where we do the tutoring and counseling and they are enrolled in accredited charter schools throughout Southern California,” said Erb.

Erb says no student can attend the learning center if they are not enrolled in a charter school. But Chavira says that wasn’t the case with her sons.

“They were enrolled in no other school or learning center or charter school prior to entering Stepping Stones,” said Chavira.