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About to pursue legal action against my daughters private school, HELP!

(30 Posts)
mamarae Mon 04-Feb-13 01:53:55

Hi everyone!

Would be really grateful for your opinions on this situation...
I have a 16 year old daughter, who was withdrawn from an independent school by the headmistress on the final day of the school year (June, 2012) The headmistress's reasoning behind this decision has yet to be explained... although we have asked on several occasions. She made it clear that this was NOT an expulsion or a suspension it was just simply a withdrawal, and her name has been taken of the school register, so my daughter is no longer a student at the school. As I am sure you can understand, it has been difficult for my husband and I to get her into a different school/sixth form at this late stage... so we have to make do with having her temporarily homeschooled with tutors etc.

The school fee for 2011/2012 has been paid off in full, so we do not owe the school any money.

After many meetings with the headmistress, the decision was made that my daughter could re-enroll to the school at any time, of course my husband and I would very much like to jump at the chance! There is a slight problem, the headmistress is demanding the full years school fee of £19,480 upfront even though my daughter will not be at the school for the full year.

The issue we are having, is that the school withdrew my daughter, took her name off the register and still want a full years worth of school fees!!

We found out from a parent who recently enrolled her daughter into the school in January that they only paid a calculated pro rata fee for january-june.

My question is, are the school really allowed to charge us the full amount and a different student a pro rata amount. providing that they withdrew my daughter and removed her name of the register.

Am I right in thinking that once a school withdraws a student the contract is deemed to be over?

I would be grateful if you could provide me with some advice on this one as it's driving me crazy!

deXavia Mon 04-Feb-13 02:09:34

From a purely financial perspective I'd say then you pay for the service they provide - so if your daughter has received no support or education from them then no fees are due. If she has had even limited support during the absence ie setting work or briefing tutors then I'm not sure how you would 'price' it piecemeal so I would see the argument for full fees even if that seems OTT for what you got.

1. If you sue the school what impact will this have in an already difficult relationship between them and you/your daughter?
2. If they really haven't explained why they withdrew her (I mean really - no explanation? I don't mean to doubt you but that seems odd esp as they have now accepted her back) why do you want her to go back - do you not fear the same thing will happen this summer?
3. How does your daughter feel about this - if there were issues for the withdrawal (publicly acknowledged or not) will these be addressed? Does she want to go back to this school under these circumstances?

I guess what I'm saying in light of your OP there would be much bigger issues for me than the £££'s (which I'm assuming you can afford if she was there for a while and you can risk legal fees in something which may not go your way)

mamarae Mon 04-Feb-13 02:22:35

Hi DeXavia

My daughter has received no support and has been studying pretty much by herself.

In answer to your questions:

1. The issue is entirely with the headmistress, we are unable to discuss this with the bursar as he forwards all correspondence to her. Am I right in thinking that these decision should be made by the bursar??

2. They haven't explained at all, we have received no letter confirming this. We had a 5 minute telephone conversation and she stated that she was withdrawing my daughter from the school and she could not return in the new school year and that was that.

3. My daughter is distraught, she feels like she is getting nowhere. The withdrawal hasn't been made public to her teachers or friends so they have no idea what is going on. And yes, my daughter desperately wants to go back.

I don't want to have to take legal action and will only pursue this as a last resort.

Do you think it would be worth discussing this with the school governors??

deXavia Mon 04-Feb-13 02:38:01

Im not a lawyer but I would suggest if you go down the legal route this will be very messy and very public at least within the school community. Which wont help your daughter integrate back in.
Given the bizarre nature of the withdrawal I would have been kicking down the governors door before now. But regardless if you have gone down that route or not - then yes I would be going there with fully documented set of correspondence from bursar and head, dates of calls and what was covered. Plus in fees details of what was paid in the past (ie always on time), cost incurred through the withdrawal etc. I assume they didn't hold a space until it was resolved??

And sorry but I would also be considering my plan B ie other schools if this doesn't pan out or the head makes a similar decision at a later date (another reason for making the governors fully aware of the situation)

RedHelenB Mon 04-Feb-13 07:04:44

Why on earth send your child back to a school where they withdrew her & you don't know the reason why!!! She'll have missed half a year of a' level studies! I think you have left out significant information in this account & therefore I would be very surprised if you had a legal route to go down.

RedHelenB Mon 04-Feb-13 07:05:47

Oh & yes, definitely the first port of call is the school governors so you get a WRITTEN explanation of what is going on.

scaevola Mon 04-Feb-13 07:12:56

What has you DD been telling her friends to explain her absence from this school for a term and a half? And where us she at school now?

You say that fees 11/12 have been "paid off" - does this mean they were outstanding previously?

Is the apparently higher sum a reflection of a higher deposit this time round?

I wouldn't re-enrol at a school that offered no explanation at all for a withdrawal.

DowntonTrout Mon 04-Feb-13 07:22:24

Are you in the UK?

There must be more to this. Were you significantly behind with the fees? Are they asking for a years fees in advance to cover themselves?

Also, for whatever reason she was withdrawn, why would you want your DD to return to a school where she was not wanted?

scaevola Mon 04-Feb-13 07:23:57

Also, get the school's grievance policy, and make sure you have followed it to the letter in terms of establishing the reasons for withdrawal.

Did your DD leave originally after GCSEs? So whatever the issue, the school kept her until after exams, and did not disrupt her. How long 'notice' were you given - unless major disciplinary matter (which you and DD would know about), then it simply won't have been done on no notice at the end of term.

lougle Mon 04-Feb-13 07:26:38

It sounds like the HR is appearing reasonable while also making it impossible for you to meet the conditions. Steer well clear.

MOSagain Mon 04-Feb-13 11:57:38

I am familiar with how fee paying schools work as my DC have been to three different fee paying schools between them.

I can only assume that you were regularly late paying fees. I can see no other reason for your daughter's withdrawal if it was not exclusion. Surely you would have had numerous warnings? It is always made clear on fee notes that are issued well in advance that they must be paid by the first day of the term for which they are due and that the school reserves the right to impose a late payment penalty and in extreme cases, to withdraw a pupil.

If however it is something other than this, then really you should be contating the Board of Govenors. Also, there is no way I would be returning my child to a school that had behaved in this way for NO reason

slug Mon 04-Feb-13 12:54:08

Is your daughter likely to fail her exams?

It's not unknown for schools to remove poor performing students from their roles to keep the school's results high <<just saying>>

HecateWhoopass Mon 04-Feb-13 13:07:33

To be honest, I would interpret this as her not wanting your daughter at the school and by saying she will take her back only if you pay a whole year's fees - she is expecting you to say no.

What do their policies say on withdrawing places. Do they have to give a reason?

I wouldn't be fighting to get her back into a school that clearly didn't want her (for whatever reason) and was happy to cast her off without any reason at all.

VivaLeBeaver Mon 04-Feb-13 13:19:02

I don't think suing would get you anywhere as they'd just withdraw their offer of the place, which they're entitled to do if they want.

They're not legally doing anything wrong, they've made an offer of a place and you either accept the terms or don't.

Morally it sounds awful and if it was my dd I really wouldn't want her going back to such a school. I'm sure she must be upset at missing friends etc, but is it maybe time to look forwards not backwards? Try and find a new school?

scaevola Mon 04-Feb-13 13:22:11

If the DD is now 16, then it is likely she sat her GCSEs last summer. If there were problems with timely payment of fees, but they kept her so her exams (and educational trajectory) were unaffected, then the school has been both pupil-focussed and generous.

If it's not fees, then nothing else springs to mind. OP says they had numerous discussions with HT about her DD returning to this school. Surely something must have been said during them about what the issues are?

mamarae Mon 04-Feb-13 14:05:31

Thank you all for replying.

We paid the school fee in full before school started, for the school year 2011/2012 - my husband and I have no issues paying the school fee whatsoever.

My daughter, is doing exceptionally well at school and got the highest possible grades.

We have asked the headmistress what her reasoning behind the withdrawal is and she won't give a straight answer, or she ignores letters, emails etc.

BobbiFleckmann Mon 04-Feb-13 14:10:36

what is your cause of action and what are you trying to achieve from going legal? specific performance to accept your daughter? because that's not going to be a nice experience to go through even if you win. And you'll spend far more than a term's fees on achieving it, if you do achieve it.

zumbaholic Mon 04-Feb-13 14:18:32

My theory is that they are full in your daughters yeargroup and have chucked her out in favour of another student who is worth more money to them-eg a non-bursary full time boarder!

Can you get her into a state school? I would think the grades shes predicted now are not going to be much affected by which school shes at wether that be private or state, she sounds like shes on course for some great grades which is down to her intelligence, not the fact shes at private school.

I wouldnt pursue this because i can forsee it would get very messy/embarrassing- especially if you have younger children moving up through school. But i wouldnt recommend them and id find somewhere else if you have other children to educate.

zipzap Mon 04-Feb-13 14:39:15

Must admit if this had been one of my dc, I'd have been talking to dd's friends and the staff to see if they had heard any reason as to why she had been kicked out, particularly if I knew there were no obvious reasons (ie late payment of fees, misbehaving in class, headteacher's dd has a personal vendetta etc). I'd also be contacting the governors straightaway.

Is there anything in the school's t&c or procedures or contract you signed when she joined the school that say when they can withdraw you from the school even if you don't want them to?

I don't think there is anything to be ashamed of - if they can do this to your dd for no obvious reason then they can do it to anybody and what's to say that their child won't be next in line. Having said that, if they haven't told you a reason and they haven't told anyone else, that's when gossip starts as people start to ponder on why she isn't there when up until the very end she assumed she would be. That's when gossip can start and be repeated until people believe it, which is when it could start to cause her a problem.

Rather than involve the recent new parent, I'd get a friend to ring up and enquire about switching schools mid year and what happens, saying they are having problems with their current one and see if they offer her a pro-rata rate. I'd also do it for the year your dd will be in to see if they have many spaces in her year - again to see if there is a reason that she was told not to bother coming back.

I don't think I would want my dc to go back to a school that was capable of doing this to my child, although if they had always loved the school (or at least their friends!) I can see how it would be tempting to do so. Are there any other good schools around that she could go to or even join in with just one subject?

I hope your dd has managed to retain her friends and this hasn't caused her to lose them, and big congratulations to her for working by herself for a-levels, that can't be easy!

ZolaBuddleia Mon 04-Feb-13 15:33:20

Has someone else new come into the class to take her place?

BobbiFleckmann Mon 04-Feb-13 15:37:33

this is rather similar to the storyline in last week's Midsomer. It didn't turn out well for Martine McCutcheon.

Floralnomad Mon 04-Feb-13 15:40:46

I can't understand why you would even consider going back to this school but then I also can't understand why you were unable to find a place for sixth form between June and September . This all sounds most peculiar and far from worrying about how much you should pay to get her back in surely first you should be finding out from the governers why her place was withdrawn in the first place . Are you in the UK ?

seeker Mon 04-Feb-13 15:44:41

Why do you want her to go back to this place?

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 04-Feb-13 16:44:02

I agree with Floral why would you want her to go back. I also find it strange you couldn't find a sixth form space anywhere when none of them are fianlised till after results anyway.

maisiejoe123 Mon 04-Feb-13 17:32:02

There is something about this post that is strange or is it just me! The OP has NO idea why her daughter has been asked to leave, no idea at all! The whole thing I feel is made up.

One reply suggested late payment of fees - I suspect they are on the right lines. All this my daughter has the highest grades etc etc just doesnt ring true...

I suspect the OP knows what it could be but has come on here with some nonsense about being asked to leave without any explanation....

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