Parents upset to find summer camp closed on first day

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Around 200 kids showed up to their first day of summer camp in Houston only to find out that it was closed.

"I showed up to drop my kids off and meet teachers, and nobody was here," says Latoya Lee.

"When we get here this morning, we cannot leave our children because they don't have adequate staff, and they're turning parents away," adds a frustrated Tonna Brown.

Be Inspired Cultural Arts Summer Camp is scheduled to be housed at Rice University's Brown College Commons. According to one Rice administrator, the university didn't allow it to open Monday because the lack of counselors presented a safety issue. The camp was supposed to have one chaperone for every 10 kids. It fell well short of that.

"We've paid activity fees. We've paid deposits. We've paid several numbers of weeks for our children to be in the program, and here we are...we have no program," Tonna Brown tells me.

The camp is based in Memphis and has locations in 11 cities. The man in charge is Quinton Cox. Eyewitness News has learned that his camps have been accused of the same thing in Little Rock and Louisville. According to the Better Business Bureau, Cox ran a similar camp called Inspirational Keys. He shut it down in 2013 and within weeks was granted a business license for Be Inspired Cultural Arts.

"It's exactly the same scenario where people are paying a significant amount of money for their kids to go to these camps and they're not getting anything out of it. They can't even get their money back," says Leah Napoliello with the BBB.

More than 50 complaints were filed against Inspirational Keys.

"There was a pattern of complaints where the people signed their kids up for the summer camp and there were no services offered whatsoever," says Leah Napoliello with the BBB. "And they couldn't get refunds at all either."

Quinton Cox showed up after all but one parent had left the campus. He wouldn't comment unless the camera was turned off. He says he was trying to find out where his staff was.

"If you guys can, give me the opportunity to fix this problem and have the doors open tomorrow," he told parents in an automated call at 8:30 Monday morning, an hour after drop-off was scheduled to begin. "I am on my way there now to assess the matter and I will be in contact with you all today. If you can, please make other arrangements for today and we will credit you for this week."

"I just hope that he'll follow through and give everybody their money back," says frustrated parent Latoya Lee.

Cox tells Eyewitness News that parents should email him for a refund. Leah Napoliello says the best chance parents have to get that refund is reporting it to their bank or credit card company in light of services not being rendered.

Parents tell us they're not holding their breath that it'll be open tomorrow.

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