Although Stratford School will begin holding classes at the site next term, it will not be assuming Carden West's debts and the two schools will not merge, a parent said on condition of anonymity. Instead, Carden West plans to close its doors at the end of the school year and cease to exist.
"Stratford will be moving into the current space effective June 1 and are in the final steps of negotiations with the landlord to finalize the deal, but will not mix business operations with Carden West nor assume any of the bank debt," the parent said. "Carden West will most likely shut down once the end of the year is reached, which is May 31. Stratford will be offering enrollment applications to all current Carden West students with a founder's discount including reduced tuition for one year, as well as uniform and book credit. In addition, Stratford will be granting employment interviews to all current Carden West teachers."
Carden West will remain in chapter 11 bankruptcy and will have to provide its creditors with a plan to pay its debts of nearly $1.8 million. On Feb. 16, the owner of the building filed an unlawful detainer action in Alameda County Superior Court to evict Carden West, but the parent said that's a legal formality to prevent the school from renewing its lease so that Stratford can take over the building.
The school now has about 100 students; another hundred have left, and that's caused a conflict between the school, which requires a 60-day notice for departing students, and the parents who removed their children.
Another parent, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, noted that the school's contracts with parents were voided when Carden West went into bankruptcy. That parent said the school sent a notice of tuition increase in December, asking for a 25% hike on Feb. 1.
"Giving 60-day notice(s) would have meant parents had to pay higher tuition in February. So parents gave 30-day notices," the second parent said. "On Jan. 9, the board backed off the tuition increase demand and changed it to a 'request for donation.' They stated without that money, they'll have to close the school about mid-February."
Half the board resigned about a week ago, according to the second parent, who said four people are running the school.
"Since now they are destitute, they have resort to extortion to get money. They are sending legal notices to all the approximately 100 parents that left and demanding two more months of tuition regardless of the parents situation, notice date, etc.," that parent said. "It is also important to mention the school already has one month of tuition as deposit."
Although parents who pulled their children from the school have called the demand "thuggery," the parent who spoke in favor of the school said that's not the case, calling their reaction "a mob mentality."
"There is no thuggery. ... There is a binding contract," the first parent said, pointing to the fact that the initial tuition increase was rescinded.
That parent said the school has paid $50,000 in back rent and has made arrangements to pay the remainder of $150,000 by May to keep the school operating through the end of its year.