Carden West parents battle over tuition payments | February 24, 2012 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

News - February 24, 2012

Carden West parents battle over tuition payments

Dispute hinges on 60-day notices for removing students

by Glenn Wohltmann

New details are emerging about Carden West, the school's bankruptcy and a fight between parents of students at the school.

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.


Posted by Fact Checker, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Let's just start with the last sentence in the article. The school has not paid $50,000 in back rent. It has paid $50,000 for the current month (the first month it has paid the entire school year). The remaining $150,000 is due by mid-March, not by May. It represents up-front payment for all remaining months rent for the school year. If the school does not make this payment on time then the landlord will evict the school on March 16th. This is all right in the court documents that were filed this month as part of an effort to prevent an eviction on February 15th.

Please try to do more than repeat the hearsay and gossip of the parents in these articles. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the many of the parents on both sides of the dispute are all fired up with emotion and may be misquoted. I would love to see the author of this and the other articles (the same person for all of them) spend more time on fact checking.

There are more inaccuracies in the article, but I will leave those for others to comment on.

Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Dublin
on Feb 23, 2012 at 2:55 pm

While some of the facts of the article may be off i think it's great that it's finally out there what is really going on behind the scenes over there. It's wonderful if you want to leave your Child at Carden West but no one else should foot the bill for that. You want the school open until May; Pay for it yourself. Bottom line the board breached the contract first, i don't know why anyone is even wasting anymore time on this. Yes children are involved, I myself have a child but again the bottom line is the board made a mistake, so what? Figure it out and move on, stop whining, crying and trying to blame any and everyone for your mistakes. Not to mention that Administration that was in charge gave the verbal and or written 'OK' to most, if not to all of these parents to leave. Who does admin answer to? The board! So again i think the Carden board might want to take a step back because seems like they are pretty guilty of breaching a contract but hey I'm no expert i guess we will just have to wait and see what happens...

Posted by cardener, a resident of Amador Estates
on Feb 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm

totally overrated school seen more as a status symbol than anything else!

Posted by Bummerooni, a resident of Val Vista
on Feb 23, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Poor Carden West parents with their elitist feel-good magnets on their Infinitis and Beemers. Looks like Carden won't be getting their kids into Ivy League colleges (as their literature hilariously boasts) after all. Stratford sounds more upper-crust anyway. Come pay a ridiculous amount of money to get an inferior education to Pleasanton public schools, but keep them away from all those grubby middle-class kids. Oh, and Stratford magnets! The new status accessory for your luxury SUV!

Posted by XCW, a resident of Amador Estates
on Feb 23, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Previous post. Yes that is funny. I was one of those. The irony is the CW patents were snobs to even their fellow parents. I never understood that. I now see Public is much more academic than CW.

Posted by noncarden, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Feb 23, 2012 at 9:54 pm

(Post removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff for containing unverified or personal information.)

Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Stoneridge
on Feb 25, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Yes, Kathleen Massie will be one of the first called to testify should Carden follow through with their threats to pursue legal action against parents who left. The court documents for their BK show they listed her a person most knowledgable...