News about New York City private schools just keeps getting crazier.
First there’s the fact that some families are paying more than a Harvard tuition to send their little ones to learn multiplication tables and craft seasonally appropriate art projects.
Then there’s the fact that they’re expected to pay tens of thousands of dollars, even if their kids don’t actually attend the school.
No, really. The New York Times reports that an increasing number of Manhattan private schools are demanding a full year’s tuition when a committed child backs out before the school year begins.
And by demanding, we mean suing. In the eyes of the schools, a parent has signed a contract and owes the promised money.
Part of the problem is that the gifted and talented program offered by the city’s public school system (which can provide an educational advantage without the hefty price tag) often doesn’t accept students until after the spring commitment deadline for city private schools. But there have also been cases where students’ families were moving away or a family’s financial situation has changed, leaving them unable to afford tuition.
For these families, hope is found in “The Gunderson Case” from 2007, where a family was able to fight a school’s lawsuit by proving that the school wasn’t financially harmed by the student leaving.
But when signing a contract, a family can’t guarantee they’ll be able to extricate themselves without paying the price. For that reason, it’s recommended that families take their schools’ contracts seriously and assume they will enforce their stated demands—after all, a legal battle isn’t cheap.