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New Chair - Legal Advice needed, feeling in over my head...

(5 Posts)
suzukisaluki Mon 17-Oct-16 15:05:37

Hi All,

I'm the new chair for my DD's preschool. On advice from our PLA Rep regarding our finances, we HAVE to get current term account arrears sorted. I can't believe parents have been allowed by staff to accrue debt so early in the term, but so it is as I pick up the baton.

Procedure has been followed, letters sent, and the third and final letter requesting full payment and the removal of enrollment to preschool outside of funded hours (we open 20 hours a week) has gone to a parent who has "flipped their lid". phrases such as "unreasonable", "feeling victimised" and "the committee are parents too, how can they be so horrible" are being bandied around...

I wholeheartedly appreciate the stress of finances on a family (I am penniless too, believe me) but how can they not see... a debt is a debt? They surely should be able to see that if you don't pay for a service, you get cut off?

The parent is threatening legal action and whilst I don't feel they have a leg to stand on, my legal knowledge is nil and the preschool staff are demoralised, older, tense and unhappy for the most part and little to no support in this.
The parent is playing all the typical cards to get their way (intimidation and shouting, swearing and foot stamping) and I feel so disappointed that I have to deal with them when all the other parents are so kind, friendly and their children are so lovely. I thought I would be enabling my DD's education and running some friendly fundraisers, not dealing with this rubbish without any support.

I feel like I've stuck my head above a parapet in the first few weeks and am about to take a bullet.

Gratefully and desperately looking for support, empathy and guidance... and feeling like I've taken on a poisoned chalice...


MoggyP Mon 17-Oct-16 15:20:19

I can't offer you much more than a friendly brew - which I assure you contains no hemlock!

Yes, elements of this kind of role are a poisoned chalice.

All you can do is stand firm, remain calm (would you like a superhero cape to help with that bit?) and explain over and over again that fees have to be paid or bills cannot be met (and if you don't pay your bills, then services will have to be cut or worse case closed). Believe me, parents know this and there will be less support for persistent debtors than they would want you to think.

No one is going to carry through a threat of legal action to permit them to continue to receive a service they are not paying for as they should!

insancerre Mon 17-Oct-16 17:32:07

I manage a nursery and I have no outstanding fees this month
Our policy is to exclude if no fees are paid
You need to be ruthless and to follow through if you threaten it
I have had to turn children away if fees haven't been paid
The fees were always paid
It's my least favourite thing about my job but it's important for he business that fees are paid on time
As long as you have followed your procedures than exclude until fees are paid. You might have to arrange a payment plan

readyforno2 Mon 17-Oct-16 17:37:52

You don't say where you're from op so ignore if not relevant.

I have found the Early Years Officer from Early Years Scotland to be really helpful (I've recently been promoted to manager of a playgroup)
They can provide committee training and offer advice to new committee members too.

Hope you manage to get things sorted

SocksRock Mon 17-Oct-16 17:51:12

It's horrible isn't it. I once had a parent threaten a member of staff within earshot of several other members of staff and children. I had to send an email terminating their place with immediate effect and asking for their account to be settled as they also owed us for part of the term. I got a huge amount of abuse, Mum shouting that I'd lost her her job (don't blame me, blame your partner who was threatening physical violence on a member of staff), all sorts. The child in question started reception with my son about 4 months later, which made life not a lot of fun!

You just have to stick to your guns. Make sure you have their signed contract to hand, all your policies and just keep reinterating that no money = no place. Work out which 5 hours you will be excluding for. Advise them that as of after half term unless the account is settled, child will be turned away for these hours. Then you may need to look at small claims action. Hopefully it won't come to that.

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