Legal Question in Education Law in California

My son attends a private school. We just re-enrolled him for the 2016-2017 school year last month and signed all the paperwork committing to the school for the entire year. Enrollment fee was paid at that time. Last week the school informed the entire student body and parents that they were closing the school at the end of the current school year in May (2016), giving us less than 2 months to find new schools and transfer our childrens' transcripts while most schools in the area (no private schools) have finalized their student enrollment for the upcoming year already. My questions are A) can the board of directors legally do this and B) doesn't this qualify as breach of contract on their part? If so, can I fight it?

Asked on 3/09/16, 1:48 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Andrew Harrell W. Andrew Harrell, Attorney at Law

Interesting question. My first impression is that they have definitely breached the contract--unless there is something in the contract that you agreed to that the school is not liable in the event they close, etc. You have also been damaged because now, because of their lateness, you are precluded from enrolling your son in a comparable private program. I strongly suspect that there may be fraud involved, i.e., the school knew they were going to fold, but entered into a contract and took your money anyway. Usually these private schools are incorporated, either as non-profits or for-profit corporations. (Check with the Secretary of State.) They do this to shield themselves from personal liability. However, there is a legal theory of piercing the corporate veil, where many of these corporations are really just one or two people who are attempting to use incorporation to illegitimately protect their own interests. Someone will need to look at the tax filings and corporate filings for this operation. There are lots of scams in California concerning education. Let me know if I can help.

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Answered on 3/09/16, 2:27 pm

It would depend upon when the school new they were going to close. Was there a negative financial event that took place. I would want to see the contract. It may be that if you have to pay more at a new school then you were paying at this school they could be liable for the difference. There may be other damages as well. I would need to see the contract. If you would like to call and discuss it my number is 818 345 0123.

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Answered on 3/09/16, 3:09 pm

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