KC grad promised $200 for finishing program, but doesn’t get it until FOX4 investigates

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Siyah Lanier has a lot to be proud of.

The 18-year-old received her high school diploma last May from a special program called Middle College, which allows students who have dropped out of traditional school to complete their education at Penn Valley Community College.

"It was amazing for me," Lanier, who is now a college freshman at Penn Valley, said. "I knew that was where everything was going to begin for me."

So why is Lanier talking to FOX4 Problem Solvers?

Every Middle College graduate was promised $200 by the Full Employment Council. Lanier got the diploma, but she never got the money.

Lanier, who is putting herself through school, said she could really use the money.

"Even though it's not a lot to most people, it's the principle," Lanier said. "I did my part."

She has repeatedly tried to track down the missing cash, sending emails, text messages and even calling the people responsible at the Full Employment Council.
Lanier said no one ever got back in touch with her.

She's not alone either. Many of the other 15 people who graduated with her last May also never got their money.

Although Kansas City Public Schools operates the Middle College Program, which is on the fourth floor of the main classroom building on Penn Valley's campus, the Full Employment Council controls the purse strings. It pays for the program with a $300,000 grant from the US Labor Department.

However, the $200 bonus checks for students come out of a different pot of money, Full Employment Council's Senior Vice President Shelly Penn said.

Penn apologized for the oversight regarding the $200 payments. She told FOX4 Problem Solvers that there had been a turnover in program staff during the time Lanier graduated and the $200 payments got lost in the shuffle.

The good news is that Penn was able to solve this problem easily. The very next day, the Full Employment Council contacted every student who hadn't received the money and provided them with a $200 gift card.

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