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Pleasanton's Carden West school in deep debt

Original post made on Jan 19, 2012

Carden West School, a small private school at 4576 Willow Road in the Hacienda Business Park, is in serious financial trouble, court records show.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 19, 2012, 7:39 AM

Comments (53)

Posted by Carden Parent, a resident of Parkside
on Jan 19, 2012 at 8:55 am

This news is a bit out of date (~Nov). The school community has come together since then and will be able to make to the end of this school year without further disruption. There are also active discussions with a nonprofit in Pleasanton to reseat the school in a new right-sized location in Pleasanton come Fall 2012.

We absolutely love the Carden focus on the whole child, as do the other parents, who come as far as Fremont and Danville. Carden has offered an opportunity for low class sizes (~15) with intelligent and well-mannered kids from various backgrounds in a secular and mutually -supportive environment (i.e., not a junior cram school, unlike a certain east Dublin private school). It is also quite convenient to have the toddler/preschool/K-5 all in one location.

Many of the Carden parents themselves grew up in public schools in other states and are shocked at the state of California's educational system, even in the best public school districts such as Pleasanton and Danville. How will our kids compete in the future if we don't prepare them now? We would love it if our kids could get the public education we received as kids, and we have given to PUSD funding drives ourselves. However, with public school finances getting cut every time we turn around, and K-3 class sizes potentially going to 28? 30? 33? (oh, and 3 fewer weeks in the future?), Carden has been a godsend.

Posted by Barbara, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2012 at 9:12 am

Only $6,000 in assets but over a MILLION in liabilities?

Where did all that tuition money go? Was this a failed business model (couldn't cover the costs over the long run)?

Posted by Carden Parent, a resident of Parkside
on Jan 19, 2012 at 9:44 am

I think the failure was in signing a 10 year lease in 2004 for a building sized for over 400 students. With the recent recession years, enrollment simply has not kept up to cover fixed costs. If the school currently had the enrollment levels of 2010, which were still well under building capacity, the school would be cash flow positive.

Posted by John, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 19, 2012 at 10:01 am

And I thought PUSD had funding problems.

To "Carden Parent",

What was "shocking" about the "... best public school districts such as Pleasanton and Danville"? You said " We would love it if our kids could get the public education we received as kids". But the only thing you talk about is class size. When I went to public elementary school decades ago, class size was 30+ for K-3. At Vintage Hills elementary today, it is 25. I'm not seeing what you are saying.

Posted by Curious, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2012 at 10:07 am

PUSD is $27 million in debt, not counting general obligation bonds. Carden is $1.8 million in debt.

Posted by John, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 19, 2012 at 10:23 am

"PUSD is $27 million in debt, not counting general obligation bonds. Carden is $1.8 million in debt."

Yes, but PUSD is a whole district with a lot more students and schools. Seems like Carden is in worse shape. As a consumer, I'm going for PUSD, with all its problems, rather than spend all that money (and sacrifice my retirement savings) on a private school that in a questionable financial condition. Other people may decide otherwise. We tried Quarry Lane School, and weren't too happy with that either -- Teacher turnover was higher than at Vintage Hills. I'm just not seeing a lot of good options around here. For us PUSD was the least bad of all the bad options.

Posted by Carden Parent, a resident of Parkside
on Jan 19, 2012 at 11:02 am

To John,

Your points are well-taken. PUSD offers a good experience, I would bet better than 90% of the districts in the state. What many of us from other states (IL, PA, MA, VA, NC, and yes, even SC) experienced were things like the following: class sizes around 20 to 23 throughout K-8 for all students, high quality vocational programs within the public high school, honors level classes in multiple subjects (not based simply on standardized tests but actual classroom achievement) beginning in middle schools, 1 day/week or even 5-day/week programs for gifted and talented students beginning as early as the in 4th grade, and publicly-funded math-science magnet schools. The pluses and minuses of tracking are perhaps a topic for another day, but I would argue that we have gone too far to the "no tracking at all" end of the scale in CA early education. I strongly believe we are leaving a lot of future potential untapped across the spectrum with our current curricular focus on the median student. Even if your public district offers it, GATE is a far cry from what is still done regularly in other states. I don't know yet if my children will qualify as 'gifted', but even if they don't, I would hope that the kids that do qualify would not be completely bored (as I hear from so many parents with older kids) in K-8 because there is so little focus on maximizing their potential.

There are many policy issues with CA public schools that perhaps can't be solved with money alone, but even today, many other states find the political will to fund their schools at much higher $/student than we have in CA. Some of the other parents I have talked to speak about going back for high school reunions and seeing brand new school academic and athletic facilities being built in their long-ago-residentially-built-out school districts. Part of this may be wistfulness for days gone by, but I really believe that CA could and should do better.

Posted by Lisa, a resident of Heritage Valley
on Jan 19, 2012 at 12:18 pm

It's very odd that the Carden parent is talking down about PYSD because if budget cuts when this private school didn't even have money to meet payroll. Not sure this is who I'd want teaching my kids given their inability to properly manage the school and doing nonsense like signing a ten year lease without knowing what future enrollment would be. Also, I don't know of the "East Dublin" school being trashed by the Carden parent, but I'm willing to bet this scho isn't putting there students at risk of a mass exodus of staff over not being able to meet payroll. Finally, if you had such great experiences out of state, and this one is so horrible, leave and don't let the door hit you in the a** on the way out.

If you cared about your children's education you'd understand how hard it is on the child to change schools and you would have reviewed the schools finances before enrolling. Now their creditors, some of which could be hard working janitors or food suppliers or the like, may end up being screwed over for the benefit of your child. How is this right?

Posted by Many M, a resident of Stoneridge
on Jan 19, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Dear Carden Parent:

It's very clear that you don't like what California has to offer so perhaps you should move back to wherever you came from since this is such a disappointment to you.

Posted by Curious, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Personally, I find this "go back to where you came from" talk not productive. I am sad that a private school is having trouble financially as well as the public schools.

I would like to know where all the California tax money goes. Since it is one of the largest economies in the world,if Illinois, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, etc. have far less money, how can they have class sizes of 20-23 for grades K-8 in public schools?

Are California teachers overpaid compared to everyone else in the U.S.? Are construction and lease costs much higher than every other state in the U.S.? Do they spend more proportionally more on administration and overhead costs in CA than the students?

Posted by Beth, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Curious - California is spending money on welfare. We have 1/3 of all United States welfare recepients in this state. That is where our money goes. It also goes to a bloated system in Sacramento. If we would make our legislators part time with NO per diem in addition to their salary, we would have more money for the schools. And please, nobody start railing about Prop 13. Prop 13 does NOT need to be repealed. Our state needs to start living within its means.

Posted by Vanessa, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 19, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Thank you, Curious, for pointing out the "go back to where you came from" attitude is not productive, at all, especially when Carden Parent is not coming off with a bad attitude. They are presenting their view in a clear, concise manner along with their opinion. No need to bash someone for their views as they see it.

And thank you, Beth, for pointing out the waste in this state and where a lot of our money goes. This is why I get pissed off every time I see or hear someone saying "raise taxes". No, that is not the answer. The answer is live within our means and stop spending money we don't have. Leave our schools and their funding alone and quit doing assinine things like giving millions in aid to illegal alien college students.

Posted by Another Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Thankfully things are looking optimistic for the school year and the children will have an non-disruptive year which was always a priority. To Lisa your comment, "Not sure this is who I'd want teaching my kids given their inability to properly manage the school and doing nonsense like signing a ten year lease without knowing what future enrollment would be." is a bit off-mark. I highly doubt that any teachers were involved in signing any leases. The elementary teachers are great!

Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm

"PUSD is $27 million in debt, not counting general obligation bonds. Carden is $1.8 million in debt."

You can add a minimum of 15 million dollars per year, for the next 30 years, to the PUSD's debt service on the unfunded liabilities of the teacher's pension plan. That is probably a minimum of 450 million dollars that will be diverted from the class from over the next 30 years. Much of that cost is has to do with benefits most people aren't aware of. The CalSTRS plan (teacher retirement pension plan) has been taking liberties with the tax payer dollars.

Posted by ex Carden Parent, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Jan 19, 2012 at 10:34 pm

I agree with some concerns that a Carden parent had regarding challenges in taping the kids potential in public school. But Carden West is definitely not the answer. They are not academically strong, they don't challenge kids, they don't have an individualized program. And they have an amazing ability not to recognize talent. Basically they conform the kids to mediocrity of their program. The only attraction that we had was the facilities that is going to be no more since they are moving. I believe you can work the system in public schools, add extracurricular activities for your kids, tutor them individually and take an active role in their development. Of course the preferred (and easier) way is the school do that, but I don't see much option in Pleasanton. Carden West is a total bust and Quarry Lane is a hit and miss.

Posted by Lisa, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Teachers in California are not paid on the same salary schedule.Each district has their own salary schedule. Many school districts in CA have shocking low salaries. It is shameful.
Our children are our asset. They are our future. They should have the very best. No one ,who becomes a teacher, does it for the money.
It is wonderful that Carden West has such great student:teacher ratios. All our children deserve that, not just the ones who can afford it.

Posted by I wonder, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jan 20, 2012 at 1:46 am

Maybe it's time for teachers to start working a full year. Maybe the district should consider this as a way to reduce class size. Just a thought.

Posted by Interested party, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 20, 2012 at 2:15 am

Maybe we could just respect that the Carden Community is doing the best they can as a group to resolve an issue and take care of the children involved in this situation.

Posted by None of the Above, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2012 at 8:30 am

I respect your point, Interested party, but with almost $2 million in debt, the school must have known about this problem for quite some time.

Why did the administration not tell parents BEFORE filing for bankruptcy? Or for that matter, when it stopped paying rent? Why were they deliberately keeping parents in the dark?

The turnover in principals (three in four years?) is enough to say that they've known about this for a long time.

Posted by annoyed, a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2012 at 8:49 am

Be thankful you don't live in AZ if you think CA is bad

Posted by Another CWS Parent, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Jan 20, 2012 at 6:04 pm

We love Carden West and are helping to do everything we can to help our children have an excellent education. It is a not for profit school with volunteers -- but the past is the past -- no point in finger pointing -- likely the responsible parties are mostly gone, it did not happen over night.

What is important -- our children and their education -- Carden is focused on that --

To understand why some of us choose a private school like Carden West -- have family movie night with "Waiting for Superman" that may put Pleasanton and the Public School Systems in perspective.

Come visit our school, you may see what we love too -- we have room to grow -- lots of room and we are not the highest tuition either!!

As parents we need to figure out what is best for our children in this "world" of ours -- we choose Carden West.

Posted by Lisa, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2012 at 12:19 am

Pleasanton public schools are HARDLY LIKE the schools in WAITING FOR SUPERMAN. GET REAL.

Posted by Maureen, a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 21, 2012 at 7:42 am

Voucher system could help so much with things like this.

Posted by HGP, a resident of Gatewood
on Jan 21, 2012 at 11:41 pm

My office is one over from where this school is and it's in an expensive very nice building that could collect generous rents. It's unthinkable to me that all these pro Cardenas school people aren't considering that it may be a private part or small pool of investors that owns this building and the huge financial hardship that this is likely creating for the building owners dunce clearly carden isn't/hasn't paid their rent. It's. It fair to whoever owns that building that they are shouldering part of the financial impact of educating these kids in a private school so poorly run that they are bankrupt with not even enough funds to make payroll. To the carden parents on here, if you insist on having your child in this facility and don't want to have your kids in public schools, pay enough tuition to keep the school running and don't expect to have them in a facility/building that isn't being paid for thus forcing the owners to supplement your child's private education. As I see the flow of traffic in and out of the building every single day I know we can agree that you don't need to be in that type if facility and theres no way you are using the space unless you gave indoor recreational facilities. Next time you drop your kids off, imagine for one second that you are paying a mortgage on a house that you have tenants in that mismanaged their money or didn't have the income they reported to you and that they just stopped paying you and expected you to cheerfully let them stay free if charge. Give me a break. And stop taking advantage of others to pay to educate your children since clearly you all aren't paying enough and/or you are allowing the tuition to be squandered. Again, please tell me why the owners of that building should pay to educate your kids when I assure you they already pay thousands in property taxes to fund public schools. Shut the school down and reopen it with appropriate tuitions and in an appropriate faculty.

Posted by HGP, a resident of Gatewood
on Jan 21, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Wow. Autocorrect was clearly on steroids with my last post. Hope you still get the point.

Posted by Sara, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 22, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Prop 13 is the blame. Wiped out our schools finances. 1% in property taxes, that's a pittance!

Normally i wouldn't think that but CA property values are very expensive, so are leases and purchases. Everything to do with property is throught e roof except the bargain of Prop 13. you cannot live in an expensive envronment and also have the one major sourse of school funding be nearly non-existant. When all the ills are diagnosed, they began w/ prop 13.

Posted by Curious, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2012 at 10:13 pm

I don't agree with that statement on Prop 13.

The problem with the California schools are that there are over a hundred school districts, each spending millions in administrative costs. How many school districts are there in Alameda County? I can' begin to count.

In most states, there is one school district per county, i.e. XXXXXX County Public Schools so that there is one single administrative staff per county. There is not a separate administrative staff per city, but in California, there is practically a 'unified school district' per city in every county. That means hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on administration.

When there is one administrative staff per county in a State, usually the superintendent and their management staff are very experienced, and have qualifications that far exceed the normal experience of CA school administrators. In many states, the idea of hiring 25-35 year old superintendents and principals is unheard of.

There needs to be consolidation so that the waste on redundant school administrations per city needs to stop. There is no need for local school boards per city when they tend to say everything is the state's fault anyway.

Posted by Sara, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 22, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Soon after Prop 13 passed, the schools stopped providing towels for PE showers, eventually the showers stopped, then the school buses stopped running, then the music, art and industrial arts classe started closing .... So curious, it doesn't really matter if you agree with the statement of not, basically our funding got throttled and it was the beginning of the demise. Most other States that are being written about have property taxes that quadruple what we have in CA. Sure we have a loose system to an extent, but even with the tighten system in the world, if there are a lack of funds, the students suffer.

Posted by Curious, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 23, 2012 at 12:20 am

I'll bet if the unified districts were consolidated to county wide systems in order to gut the central administration to what is required, then there would be more than enough money to fund busing and other classes. I'm not certain about the showers and towels you speak of (I don't know of any public schools that provided shower towels sort of like Club Sport does and hotels do).

CA residents are one of the most highly taxed populations in the 50 states and also have higher real estate prices than most of the other states, which is why senior citizens were being forced out of their homes in the first place [because they were taxed so much and it increased astronomically every they were displaced from their homes even if they had previously paid their mortgage off]. That is why Prop 13 was passed in the first place.

Posted by Ex Parent, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Jan 23, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Another CWS Parent, a resident of the Ruby Hill neighborhood, on Jan 20, 2012 at 6:04 pm

If you love Carden West, obviously you're not academically oriented.

Posted by regret, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 26, 2012 at 8:57 am

As a two working parent family, we chose Carden West due to the shortage of kindergarten extended care positions in PUSD. We would never have enrolled if we had known about their financial position, which is probably why they never told us. As it stands, we paid the tuition asked of us, participated in the school, but were never given any insight into the finances and are now in danger of being left in the lurch mid-year. Similarly, the teachers are employees of a financially unsound institution and have my every respect as they are under huge amounts of stress.

Posted by Teacher, a resident of another community
on Jan 26, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Thank you to regret post to acknowledge the stress the Carden West Teachers are under. We have been working hard, underpaid, but very proud of the work we do. We have wonderful children to teach and just want to help them finish a school year, happily. We are stuck like any other employees with a company struggling from some poor management. Previous post was so correct in stating that previous times with higher enrollment allowed for dream of a great school in a large size facility. Economic times in too large a facility have caused huge struggles for Carden. I hope I can finish teaching my children for this school year and find a job.

Posted by Ex Carden West Parent, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Jan 28, 2012 at 11:35 am

Dear Teacher,
I salute you. I can only imagine the level of stress you're in right now because of school situation. According to court records, they don't have any money in their payroll account. Are you getting paid? We were just parents there and we had high anxiety and stress everyday. Best of luck to you.

Posted by Former Carden West Parent, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Feb 18, 2012 at 6:15 am

Kudos to the CW "Board" for another classy move. Former parents just began receiving legal notices from the hooligan Board demanding tuition for the "contractual 60-day withdrawal notice period", even in cases where that 60-day notice was waived by the administration. The school was in clear breach of its own contract when it sent out notices to parents on Christmas Eve that it would raise tuition mid-year by 25%. When that sent parents fleeing the school to seek more viable options, the Board started backpedaling on the 25% increase, choosing instead to "request" a donation from each parent. Every single week the Board was spinning a new narrative, including the possibility of abrupt closure. The Board is now threatening legal action and notification to credit bureaus if their latest extortion attempt is not met. We are exploring a counter legal offensive in the face of this notice.

Posted by Ex CW Parent, a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2012 at 11:19 am

I'm responding to the previous posting and anyone else getting legal notice from Carden West Board.

Anyone got legal notice from Carden West to give a 60-day notice of termination? That is a fraudulent attempt to extort money. The school breached their own contract when it sent a 30-day notice of 25% tuition increase on Friday afternoon before Christmas (12/23/2011)

We need to get together as parents to fight this bully. I set up an email address

Posted by Former Carden West Parent, a resident of Canyon Creek
on Feb 18, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Post removed due to excessive posts by the same poster under different names.

Posted by Former Carden West Parent, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Feb 19, 2012 at 1:28 am

Roy - I sent you an email. Parents are banding together to fight this thuggery. We are in the process of organizing and pursuing collective legal action.

Posted by Former Carden West Parent, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Feb 19, 2012 at 10:55 am

Former CW parents: we have formed a Google group to get organized. Please go to the following and request membership:
Web Link

If that doesn't work, please email and request access to the group. Gita and a group of parents (including an attorney parent) are leading the coordination.

Posted by Carden West Parent, a resident of San Ramon
on Feb 20, 2012 at 10:36 pm

We got this message from the board today :
Dear Carden Community,

We would like to take a moment to clarify that former students who wish to return to Carden West and finish the year through May 31 with us will resume their regular monthly tuition payments and will satisfy the 60 day contract clause. Additionally, they will be eligible for the offers made by Stratford which include the waived application fee of 75 dollars, a uniform credit of 250 dollars and founding families discount of 8-10% which can come to 1400 dollars. Come back and join us. Our doors are open!

Carden West Board of Trustees

We still have dedicated teachers at Carden West and 112 remaining families who are praying & hoping to finish the year successfully. So we request you all to not post insensitive comments like "Let the school shut down. Remove your kids from the toxic & unhealthy environment". We totally acknowledge the utter confusion & conflicting messages and the way the board handled the whole thing. But what has happened, has happened and there is no point dwelling in the past. And more importantly the remaining teachers and children should not be punished for the incompetent actions of the board. What good would it do if the school is forced to shut down abruptly now - that would put 15 teachers out of the jobs and 112 families scrambling around for a new school for the next 3 months. We request you all who left because of the uncertainity especially those who have gone to public schools to come back since such parents are not already tied down into financial contracts at other private schools. Things have stablilized now and we still have dedicated teachers, art, PE, music, computers. Every child that can come back now will give the teachers a better chance of keeping their jobs & the remaining families a better chance to finish the year successfully. Thank You all for your efforts to help save Carden West for the reminder of the year & for your sense of community & genorosity.

Posted by Carden West Parent, a resident of San Ramon
on Feb 21, 2012 at 2:22 am

Stratford is a great brand name with strong emphasis on rigorous academics. Stratford is listed in the Top 100 CA schools recognized by CTY - John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth
Web Link
Many teachers & kids from Carden will be at the new Stratford school.
So if you're thinking of sending your child to Stratford school it makes great finanical sense to come back and stay in Carden for the reminder of the year and make use of all the Stratford discounts being offered. Almost a month of tuition of about 1400 dollars is free for the first year at Stratford and 250 dollar credit towards uniforms and the application fee of 75 dollars is waived for Carden families.

Posted by Amused law diva, a resident of Downtown
on Feb 21, 2012 at 9:17 am

I am always amused when I see citizens try to play attorney when it is clear from their statements that they have not spoken to an attorney, at least not one who has the good sense to give them honest advice. Nonsense is usually what follows. Drivel About FBI, and sheriff's office and attorneys general. So laughable.

I am going to make some general assumptions about the contract between the parents and the school, perhaps each party has the right to make changes within a period of time (sounds like sixty days on each side from the previous posts). Each party has an opportunity to cure any actual or perceived failure to uphold the terms of the contract, followed by a binding or non-binding arbitration ( all the rage these days in legal circles to unload the courts) followed by the proverbial day in court. I am not sure where some probably otherwise bright folks (certainly at the very least parents of attendees of a private school for what that is worth) got the idea that a court would ever consider the entire contract null and void because of a tuition hike that never actually took place. The same way parents would be given a chance to cure is the same way I imagine the school did. The folks who air their legal arguments publicaly are almost always the ones with no legal arguments to make. I wouldn't be surprised if the lawyer-parent was a divorce attorney or tax attorney. Contracts matter in our society and are broadly enforceable because if they weren't, we simply could not do business. There is no way the court will consider the entirety of the contract null and void. We see this all the time in the world of moving violations where the ticketee feels so aggrieved that they swear they will fight the ticket and will win because X and Y. By the time they get around to having paid the bail, they usually give up the fight. Collecting the money is a different matter altogether which is why traffic court collects its money in advance of the court date.

Let's move on for a moment to the concept of countersuits in the corporate environment. First of all, the entire concept of a corporation is to limit the liability of the individual, particularly those serving in non-ownership roles, like board members, in this case trustees not directors as the school is a non-profit. Again, while individual parent may view themselves as aggrieved parties, there is no way that there will be liabilities for the board members. Now, let's say you met the two criteria for successful litigation of a civil matter, namely liability and damages, how are you going to collect from a corporation that is in bankruptcy!?!? You would have to go before the bankruptcy judge just to get relief from the bankruptcy stay to even proceed with a civil suit. Hilarious!

Moving on to criminal charges, which can of course be only brought about about by the district attorney, not a private citizen, no matter what you've seen on Matlock about citizen's arrests. Which district attorney do you think will sign up for this one? And what exactly is the charge? Even if there is a legitimate dispute over the contract, both parties have a right to their day in court. What exactly is criminal about that?

Finally, a word about fiduciary responsibility because I think someone mentioned it earlier. I don't know this Besch guy from a hole in the wall, but I know his responsibility is the the corporation, not to the parents who left. Good luck making a case that he owes you guys something. He has a responsibility to uphold the contracts and enforceability is a matter for the judge to decide. That responsibility is multiplied by have creditors in a bankruptcy court. Stratford takes over at some point, but I am sure that their counsel ( not a divorce or tax attorney) has advised them to keep arms length to prevent any exposure to what we call successor liability. So it sounds like Carden dies at the end of the school year.

By now a group of you have had or are about to have a meeting where you will get yourselves all lathered up about using the courts to your advantage. You are probably thinking you are quite the pitchfork mob. Folks, that's just not the way the world works. Slowly, a few of you will lose steam, then a few more. Some are already thinking why would I spend $25k in legal fees to avoid paying a few months tuition when it was clearly in the contract.. Oh, and who was the fool who mentioned class-action status? What judge would grant class action status against a company that will no longer be operational?!?! Again, absolutely precious!!

Go home and have a nice cup of chamomile tea and relax. Your best chance is negotiate some sort of settlement you can live with and move on with your lives. You think you have strength in numbers, but the courts are there to protect against the mobs, not to support them and your numbers will dwindle soon as a few rabble rousers amongst you will fight to keep together a coalition of the willing.

By the way, you did get one good piece of legal advice, keep your posts anonymous. You have a right to your opinions, but the posts here are out of control. There are reasons we have libel and slander laws on the books you know. As long as you keep your names out of sight, Pleasanton Weekly won't give you up, but I would Be careful nonetheless. Just one gal's opinion.

Posted by Comment, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2012 at 10:31 am

Let's hope the amused law diva doesn't practice law in any state.

Pleasanton schools and fraud and court cases and arrests and crimes do seem to go hand in hand lately, i.e. this one Web Link

Actually, it isn't laughable. And 'diva' seems clueless to think that only the district attorney can file criminal charges.

Federal investigators routinely get involved when Federal laws are violated. State investigators routinely get involved when State laws are violated. And actually for Federal crimes and U.S. Attorney's office, the indictment is usually via a grand jury.

Private schools have to comply with multiple Federal and State regulations. Also, for financial issues, the IRS Criminal Investigation division can be brought in. For banking issues, Federal bank regulators can also be brought in. If the parents suspect fraud, embezzlement, etc., contact the Feds!

Posted by Comment, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2012 at 12:38 pm

The owner of the building filed an unlawful detainer action in Alameda County Superior Court to evict Carden West on Feb. 16, 2012. Carden has not paid rent since August 2011 according to court papers.

On Feb. 11, Carden paid the owners $49,803.37. There is a now a signed agreement filed with the court that says if the owner of the building before 2 PM on Thursday March 15 receives a second check from Carden in the additional amount of $149,410.11, there will be no eviction until June 1. If Carden fails to tender a check, the agreement says the owners will proceed with the March 15, 2012 eviction.

A court filing yesterday says 100 students left and Kathleen Massie was laid off and Amirra Besh is the responsible person and the last sentence is "....are enforcing the 60 day notice to stop attrition."

Posted by CW Supporter, a resident of Southeast Pleasanton
on Feb 21, 2012 at 1:23 pm

What happened here was CW ran into financial trouble, resulting in parents leaving in droves (in my opinion, mob mentality--saw others were leaving so decided to go too...likely resulting in disruption to their childrens' well-being as they were yanked out of one school and dropped into a totally foreign environment mid-year). The parents who didn't give 60 day notices and honor their contracts took advantage of the school. Many of those parents are now locked into contracts (an unnamed school asked parents to pay in ADVANCE for the rest of the year), can't get out, and are thus fighting their legal obligation to the contract they signed at the beginning of the year with the school.

As for the argument for the 25% tuition increase nullifying the contract...that is not the case. It was rescinded, and any lawyer who reads the contract will confirm that the contract is still enforceable.

I repeat...those parents who left panicked, and are now backtracking and finding excuses not to honor their obligations.

Final thought...please keep in mind that there are still students and hardworking teachers at the school who are learning and trying to make it work. Kudos to them...not the parents who left (and honestly, what are they teaching their children? Abandon your legal obligations because you "didn't like it?")

Posted by Comment, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2012 at 2:04 pm

I am struggling to figure out how children are being blamed for this situation as are their parents with discussions about "finding excuses not to honor their obligations" with contracts when it seems the management of Carden West were the ones that did not meet their own contracts with for example, the property owner.

Carden signed a contract from 2004 to 2014 (10 years is quite a long time) on a commercial building in Hacienda Business Park with Benenson Capital Partners LLC for a lease. Monthly rent is $36,995 and Property Taxes are $12,808.37. First of all, who would sign a 10 year lease? The commercial property market has gone down since 2008. Children and their parents didn't sign that lease. $50,000 per month is a pretty hefty lease. Why did the management not meet its obligations? Were the parents who signed up for the year given full disclosure on the financial problems or were they taken completely by surprise by the November bankruptcy filing?

If enrollment was not meeting expectations, usually one option is to downsize and move to a smaller, cheaper location.

But what seems to happen is that Carden West stopped paying the rent in August 2011. This was not the parents' or children's faults.

Posted by XCW, a resident of Amador Estates
on Feb 21, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Hi Comment,
Where do you get those court papers? They should be public property. right?

Posted by Comment, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2012 at 11:10 am

They are online at the Northern District of California bankruptcy court website, Oakland Division. Search on Case # 11-71752.

Posted by Concerned, a resident of Downtown
on Feb 22, 2012 at 11:17 am

How is it that there is an article dated February 17th that talks about Stratford assuming the debts for Carden West? Stratford was at a meeting at carden West and said that they would not be involved with the bankruptcy filed by Carden West bur are simply moving in once the current lease is done (if all goes well with the landlord). How come Pleasanton Weekly did not confirm this news with Stratford before publishing the sotry based on an anonymous call from a CW parent?

Posted by Comment, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2012 at 11:41 am

I looked and don't see Stratford mentioned online in the court papers or anything regarding Stratford taking over the debt. I did see that Cleary Brothers made a claim filing and are claiming much more than Carden claims is owed ($68408).

There is no mention of Stratford in the latest reports on the court website. It mentions Valley Community Bank and makes a reference that refers to Berenson Capital Partners LLC, and talks about who the new board members are.

Posted by Concerned, a resident of Downtown
on Feb 22, 2012 at 1:08 pm

An article in Pleasanton Weekly talks about Stratford assuming the debts - this article is dated February 17th. If this is not true, how did the Weekly publish this based on an anonymous tip from a parent?

Posted by Former Carden West Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Yes, the Stratford takeover is false and Stratford has even denounced that in a recent meeting. Pleasanton Weekly likely used a parent/Board member as its source without independently verifying the information. Great journalism! The CW Board, in a written letter to all parents, explicitly informed all of us that Stratford would be taking over Carden West, and even cited the example of Stratford having done this in the past with a sister Carden facility in the South Bay. The Board likely misrepresented Stratford's position in an effort to prevent further attrition. At the most recent Board meeting, Stratford representatives made clear that they were simply a new tenant looking to take over the space, not taking over Carden West's operations. Anyways, the CW Board's false comunications regarding Stratford are only the latest in a string of deceptive communications and outright lies to prevent more parents from leaving. Lots of funny business going on there, which is a shame because the Carden philosophy and the teachers there are just incredible. Given the threatening letters that the Board sent out last week to former parents, and its strategy to pit current parents against former parents, the Board's position is that a parent can't use the Board's string of lies and deception as a reason to flee. If you boarded a ship that starts sinking mid-journey, you and your kids have no choice but to wait it out and see whether you drown collectively or get rescued with some deep bruises.

Posted by XCW, a resident of Canyon Meadows
on Feb 22, 2012 at 8:54 pm

What was the judges order tonight? Will they stay or will they go?

Posted by Former Carden West Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2012 at 8:24 am

Judge approved the landlord's petition to evict CWS on March 16th if, by that date, CWS does not pay the agreed-upon lump sum rent of $150,000 for the remaining 3 months.

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