How am I supposed to repay a scholarship based on financial need?
January 18, 2012 8:55 AM   Subscribe

How do I solve this? My kid can't go on a school trip that I never paid for; now they're saying I owe the school $3,000. One of my kids is a senior in high school and is active in a select chorus. The chorus director arranged a $3,000 trip to Europe for April break. I wasn't too excited about this trip and initially said no. Because my kids qualify for free lunch, the school said they would arrange a scholarship for her to attend, and based on peer pressure, I reluctantly agreed.

I never signed anything about giving her permission for the trip or any paperwork.

However, we discovered at her college orientation that they want her for the same week for a new program for incoming freshman, and I want her to attend this program instead.

I immediately contacted her choral director (with many apologies) who said I need to reimburse the school $2900, or they would not allow her to graduate. Or she could go on the trip for free.

This seems insane to me and I'm not certain how to respond to the school.

I can't afford to pay them back; I never signed anything; and I don't want her missing this new college program.

Last complicating factor: my youngest will have the same teacher in a few years, so I want to do what's right for her, for the school, and to ensure my youngest doesn't get screwed.
posted by kinetic to Education (146 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
What does your kid want to do?
posted by Jairus at 8:57 AM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


What does your daughter want to do?
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:58 AM on January 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


The free trip to Europe is a million times more meaningful for her education than freshman orientation.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:59 AM on January 18, 2012 [141 favorites]


As a former coordinator of college events like the one you want your daughter to attend, let her choose. Europe is so much better than freshmen orientation.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:01 AM on January 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


It sounds like the school found $3000 (budget? anonymous donation? passed the hat?) for your child to go on the trip. The money is most likely non-refundable. Now, since your kid isn't going, that money has been wasted. I can certainly understand the school wanting to recoup the loss after going the extra mile and finding the funds for you.

Honestly, I think your child will get much more out of a trip to Europe with her peers.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:01 AM on January 18, 2012 [14 favorites]


Agreeing that Europe trumps freshman orientation.
posted by jbenben at 9:02 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


There will be a make-up orientation session, I guarantee - most schools haven't finished admitting students by April. Have her go on the trip.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 9:02 AM on January 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


I am not sure you will ever be able to find a single human being who can honestly say "boy that Freshman orientation sure beat a free trip to Europe."
posted by griphus at 9:02 AM on January 18, 2012 [64 favorites]


Have you spoken with anyone other than the choral director? I would not necessarily trust his or her word on such things.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:03 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The free trip to Europe is a million times more meaningful for her education than freshman orientation.

Agreed.

Also, if scholarship funds have already been expended (and are, in all likelihood, non-refundable) you really have a moral obligation to make this right (in addition to whatever legal obligation you may have).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:04 AM on January 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


I can't think of any freshman orientation program which would be more valuable than a free trip to Europe. Besides, you did agree for the school to secure a scholarship. Why not take advantage of the scholarship, which the school so helpfully provided?

If you get rid of the scholarship without checking in with your kid as to what she wants to do, I will scream.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:04 AM on January 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


The scholarship was intended for your child - it's likely the school has paid for the trip with the expectation that she was going, but hasn't yet received that money; if she doesn't go, they don't get the scholarship money. Seems fair to ask you for it in that case. Just let her go on the damn trip
posted by MangyCarface at 9:05 AM on January 18, 2012


Easiest question ever. You incurred a moral obligation when you asked for a scholarship. A free trip to Europe is way more meaningful than freshman orientation.

Send your kid to Europe!
posted by ewiar at 9:06 AM on January 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


There will certainly be many other students who will be unable to attend the program for incoming freshmen due to inability to travel, prior obligations, etc. Your daughter will not suffer for not having attended that. There are quite enough freshman orientation events once she gets to college, and she can certainly confer with the college to get information about the information she misses. Such events are almost always to give students a sense of familiarity and comfort before coming to college. I attended such a program at my own college, and though it was moderately useful, there was absolutely nothing I would not have learned organically in the first few weeks of college.

Conversely, missing a senior trip to Europe -- a life-changing experience -- would likely be something she would resent for a long time (even if she never exhibited any signs of resentment). Unless you have paid an equivalently significant amount for the trip for the freshman event (which seems unlikely), letting her go with her chorus costs you and your family nothing financially and costs your daughter nothing material, experientially. I urge you to let her go on the choral trip.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 9:06 AM on January 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


What are your concerns about the trip? Could the school address those somehow? On the face of it, I also say that the trip really trumps an orientation session, but maybe there's something we're missing here.
posted by goggie at 9:06 AM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Your kid should go to Europe. A scholarship has generously been given to which you agreed (nobody cares how reluctantly, and Europe is way better than freshman orientation anyway.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:09 AM on January 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Orientation programs are generally useless, whereas the trip to Europe will provide fond memories for the rest of her life. Please, please, please let her go on the free trip to Europe.
posted by sid at 9:10 AM on January 18, 2012


Freshman orientation is terrible. I stared out the window and wandered around the new city every night. There are other orientation sessions or it doesn't matter. A 30 minute session with a counselor would be equivalent to the same thing. It's so much wasted time.

Please send your kid to Europe especially since the school went to so much trouble. I wish I'd gone to Europe. :(
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:11 AM on January 18, 2012


I love it when AskMefi is in absolute agreement about exactly the thing I wanted to say.

If your daughter wants to go on the Europe trip with her friends (and I have a hard time imaging otherwise) and you pressure her into a freshman orientation program that will (1) be poorly-attended this far in advance of the 2012-2013 year and (2) likely repeated multiple times, including the week before school starts in the Fall, she's going to resent it heavily.

Sorry - that was an incredibly dense sentence. tl;dr - Don't make her miss a European adventure to make her listen to someone reading from Powerpoint slides.
posted by brozek at 9:12 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


You never "signed anything" and you were "reluctant"... but you admit you agreed.

Think of that as an RSVP. People acted to accommodate your daughter after you agreed, whether you did it reluctantly or enthusiastically. You found out later there was something else that you would rather have your daughter attend -- but you're already committed. It's obnoxious of the school to refuse to let her graduate, but she should go anyway.
posted by chickenmagazine at 9:12 AM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Freshman orientation is a vital experience which any student will remember and treasure for the rest of his or her life, and which is far more valuable than any trip to Europe.

Good grief, I couldn't even keep a straight face while typing that. Let your daughter go to Europe, for crying out loud!
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:15 AM on January 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


I never attended freshman orientation at my university. I did, however, find a way to go to Europe while in University. I don't regret my choices one bit. Please send your kid to Europe.
posted by LN at 9:18 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I never signed anything about giving her permission for the trip or any paperwork.

You mentioned this a few times but it's meaningless as far as legality or moral responsibility are concerned. A verbal agreement is just as valid as a signed written contract. It's unfortunate that the terms of the agreement were not clear about cancellation, but it's fairly understandable that the school could do something like purchase non-refundable tickets or otherwise make commitments based on the agreement that you made. You probably need to talk to the school, your daughter, and possibly your daughter's college about this and come up with some sort of reasonable resolution, I don't think you can reasonably just expect to cancel and have that be the end of it.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:18 AM on January 18, 2012


Freshman orientation is worthless and will be forgotten in a month. Free trip to Europe will probably be a lifelong and treasured memory. I'm surprised this is even a question.
posted by Sternmeyer at 9:18 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I can regale you with exactly what happened at my freshman orientation:

Speeches by school officials I never saw or heard from again.
A tour of campus buildings I would never visit again.
Distribution of "gift" boxes full of pamphlets on campus life, Tylenol and fast food coupons.
Waiting on line to get a student ID.
Hot dogs.
posted by griphus at 9:19 AM on January 18, 2012 [12 favorites]


Serious question: What is so important about this freshman orientation that would put it above a free trip to Europe?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:20 AM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


My parents refused to accept a similar scholarship for me to do the exact same thing (some idiotic not taking charity principle), and it's been a lifelong regret for me. And for them too, I think, because my mother still mentions it apologetically.

Freshmen orientation is not in any way comparable to the experience of visiting Europe.
posted by winna at 9:21 AM on January 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Think of that as an RSVP.

More than that, it's a verbal contract. Imagine calling up a ice sculptor and verbally requesting $3000 worth of ice sculptures for this afternoon. Then, after they've made the sculptures, you decide you want to go to a movie instead, so you won't pick them up and you won't pay for them.

Imagine their reaction, and don't dub out the furious swears as you do so.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:22 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your daughter must be what, sixteen or seventeen? This should be her decision.
posted by orange swan at 9:23 AM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


However, we discovered at her college orientation that they want her for the same week for a new program for incoming freshman, and I want her to attend this program instead.


Just pointing out that she hasn't said what this program actually is, just that it is for incoming freshman and they learned of it AT her orientation.

I think the Europe trip still probably trumps it, but perhaps we need to know what this program is...
posted by utsutsu at 9:23 AM on January 18, 2012


In high school, I missed out on a number of REALLY AWESOME TRIPS because I took the safe route, always.

Do not let your kid be me. Oh, and freshman orientation sucks.
posted by notsnot at 9:25 AM on January 18, 2012


Europe Europe Europe! (nthing for emphasis)
posted by danceswithlight at 9:28 AM on January 18, 2012


My family was pretty poor in high school. I also had a band trip to Europe. I worked my butt off doing fundraising, selling candy, etc. in addition to my job so I could afford it. Even having to scrape it together out of pocket, I have never regretted it. It was awesome and it taught me that I shouldn't give up on doing things just because it seems out of my or my family's price range.

I'm assuming that the trip also includes performances since it's a choir trip. My high school band performed in churches, theaters and bandshells in Italy for a week. I doubt I will ever get to play an instrument in a church in Rome again. I wasn't even a big band nerd, but I will never forget that.
posted by nakedmolerats at 9:28 AM on January 18, 2012 [18 favorites]


Nthing Europe!
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:28 AM on January 18, 2012


The question is not very clearly written. But it's worth noting that

a) the week-long college program that's in conflict with the Europe trip is not freshman orientation. It's some other program that they _learned_ about at orientation. We have no idea what the program is. It sounds more like it's some four-year program that requires her attendance this April. For all we know it involves a free semester abroad! But my experience of college bureaucracy is that they SAY participation in April is required so that parents don't just bail because it's inconvenient. I'll bet if you tell the college you have a prior commitment and you're out $3K if you break it, they'll tell you it's fine.

b) it seems pretty clear from the original question that OP doesn't think the Europe trip is a good idea for this kid, $3K or no $3K. We don't know why, but I wouldn't immediately assume the parent is wrong about this.

That said: I do think it's likely that people at the school have busted their butts to scrounge up this money, some of which has presumably now been spent on non-refundable plane tickets. I understand why they'd be peeved if you pulled out. I also don't get a strong sense from your e-mail that your daughter is looking for a way out of this trip. If the trip is really a bad idea, then the mistake you made was agreeing to it in the first place; but, having done so, I think there's no way to gracefully back out. You should stick with your original plan, and explain the situation to the college so they don't kick your daughter out of this program.
posted by escabeche at 9:29 AM on January 18, 2012 [19 favorites]


+ Everybody. Freshmen orientation is AT BEST a bunch of welcome speeches, "team-building" activities led by RAs with the people on your floor, a campus tour, and a cookout on the cafeteria lawn. There's just no way it compares to the Europe trip.
posted by CheeseLouise at 9:29 AM on January 18, 2012


It's obnoxious of the school to refuse to let her graduate

Agreed, but its pretty much the only leverage they have. They have most likely already paid for her flight and accommodation (if they can cancel there will, most likely be penalties involved) so they're out a huge chunk of change that they generously agreed to pay so that she could go. Since they OP didn't sign anything, their legal leverage is pretty slim (while in theory a verbal contract can be as valid as a written one, there's no proof of it, unless the conversation was recorded, so enforcing it is far more difficult).

Regardless of whether this college event will be useful or interesting, the school has shelled out $3k for your kid when they didn't have to, why do you think they should just eat that cost because you changed your mind? What if you had bought something expensive for someone, something you couldn't return, resell or otherwise use and they changed their mind and decided they didn't want it, how would you feel? Wouldn't you feel they owed you?

Your reluctance and peer pressure and irrelevant. You agreed to let her go and they spent a lot of money based on that agreement.
posted by missmagenta at 9:32 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


More details:

My daughter never wanted to go on this school trip. As soon as we discovered the overlapping dates she was really happy because it gave her an excuse to not go.

She vehemently doesn't want to go for a lot of reasons.

None of her friends in chorus want to go and in fact, most of her friends aren't going.

She's been to Europe plenty of times, with her family and also with her school. She does not want to go on this trip, period. She never did.

This started out as a dream of the chorus director's ("the kids singing in Estonia!"), he got a lot of initial parent resistance and less than half the chorus is going. In the past few weeks, more kids are dropping out.

Further clarification: this is a new program at her college; it's not freshmen orientation. It's a week of living in the dorms with upperclassmen, being mentored, meeting professors for lunches and dinners, going to classes and lots of activities while she's still in high school. My kid is psyched beyond measure to do this. She could give a fuck about this trip to Europe.

As to whether I agreed or disagreed to send her, I guess it's clearer to say that I told the choral director I couldn't afford it, and he replied that many kids would qualify for scholarships. That was in September, and since there has been no correspondence about the trip. I mean, we still haven't been told the exact dates of the trip, just that it's over April break.

If this were normal freshman orientation versus a free trip to Europe, yes, to Europe she would go.

It's not. And that's why it isn't the question I asked.

What I want to know is what's my best way of dealing with the school saying I owe them money?
posted by kinetic at 9:34 AM on January 18, 2012 [13 favorites]


We have no idea what the program is. It sounds more like it's some four-year program that requires her attendance this April. For all we know it involves a free semester abroad! But my experience of college bureaucracy is that they SAY participation in April is required so that parents don't just bail because it's inconvenient. I'll bet if you tell the college you have a prior commitment and you're out $3K if you break it, they'll tell you it's fine.

OP did not say that the uni "requires" her attendance. The uni "wants" her attendance, as does the parent. On the one hand, we don't know the details, but on the other hand, the only obligation here is the ethical one (and probably a legal one as well) to either make use of the scholarship or repay the entity that procured it.

it seems pretty clear from the original question that OP doesn't think the Europe trip is a good idea for this kid, $3K or no $3K. We don't know why, but I wouldn't immediately assume the parent is wrong about this.

I'm very okay with assuming this until shown otherwise. A chorus trip to Europe sounds pretty awesome. For it not to be awesome would entail special circumstances (e.g. she'd be stuck on a tour bus with someone truly loathsome, or they're singing dissident hymns in Belarus as an act of international civil disobedience).

If there is something truly substantial about this college program which ought not to be missed, then what I would do is either prorate the scholarship repayment or find a way to transfer the scholarship to a fitting student next year.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:36 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you didn't actually agree that she could go on the trip (you did say in the OP that you did agree) then I would check whether they actually have the power to deny her graduation under these circumstances and find out who you can complain to.
posted by missmagenta at 9:40 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bah, it sounds like you were pressured into agreeing to send your daughter to Europe, and I don't see why you have to give into meaningless threats (eg, your daughter "won't graduate" unless she goes). That's bullshit.

Clarify with the principal this unreasonable threat from the choral director first. After that, decide what to do. At the end of the day, you cannot afford $3000, so this sort of behaviour on their part is either insensitive, or calculated.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:42 AM on January 18, 2012


My daughter never wanted to go on this school trip.

Then you and she should not have agreed she would go. Now you have created an obligation for her and yourself.

What I want to know is what's my best way of dealing with the school saying I owe them money?

Paying them, since you agreed she would go and they have paid for it. This is the only moral path if she chooses not to attend.
posted by biffa at 9:44 AM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


kinetic: "I want her to attend this program instead."

kinetic: "I don't want her missing this new college program."

kinetic: "My daughter never wanted to go on this school trip."

At first it was all "I" this and "I" that, but after seeing everyone's reaction, it's suddenly "My daughter"? Uh huh.

Anyway, the way you deal with this is by talking to the principal of the school, and not the chorus director. Unless they happen to be the same person, I don't see how the chorus director can tell you that your daughter won't graduate unless you pay them back for this trip. Also, can you clarify what you meant here:

kinetic: "and based on peer pressure, I reluctantly agreed."

kinetic: "As to whether I agreed or disagreed to send her, I guess it's clearer to say that I told the choral director I couldn't afford it, and he replied that many kids would qualify for scholarships. That was in September, and since there has been no correspondence about the trip. I mean, we still haven't been told the exact dates of the trip, just that it's over April break."

Because I'm seeing conflicting statements here.
posted by Grither at 9:47 AM on January 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


The choral director is saying you owe the money, but I'd be asking the principal instead. Sounds like this isn't a required trip since a lot of kids are dropping out. I'd also try to talk to the parents of kids who chose not to go and the parents of those kids who are dropping out. How are they handling the money issue? The school technically wouldn't be out the money because they can use it to pay for another students trip, or spread it out so that each kid going pays less. Depending on who the donor is, there are probably ways around not losing that money somehow.

I'm guessing that since you haven't filled out paperwork or signed anything they couldn't have booked non refundable plane tickets (make sure your daughter hasn't filled out anything in class).

I would get written clarification from the chorale director about everything that has transpired (email is good here) then escalate it up to the principal and maybe the school board if you need to go that far. The chorale director may be trying to "save" his trip or save face by keeping students from dropping out of the trip somehow. Keep asking questions and getting things documented.
posted by MultiFaceted at 9:50 AM on January 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


[record-scratching sound as this thread executes a hasty 180]

My original answer said "I also don't get a strong sense from your e-mail that your daughter is looking for a way out of this trip." It seems that was wrong. If your daughter doesn't want to go to Estonia (you guys were imaging Rome or Paris, weren't you? Come on, be honest) it's a completely different story. And if there aren't even set dates, it means plane tickets haven't been purchased. I assumed that scholarship money had already been solicited from other parents, but now I'm in doubt about that, too. The new version of this story sounds a lot more like a chorus director is trying to bend the parents and kids in your school to his own vision, and that lots of them aren't having it. He's probably freaking out about the fact that his vision's falling apart around him.

To be honest, I'm now completely confused about what you should do. I can only say that

a) you should talk to your principal
b) you should consider your primary role to be your daughter's advocate.
posted by escabeche at 9:51 AM on January 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


There are some issues that pop up at me:

The choral director hasn't told you what the dates for the trip are. Does he know? Have tickets been bought? If they haven't been bought, there shouldn't be any penalty for your daughter not going. If he doesn't know the dates, why?

You haven't signed anything. This is really suspicious to me. If my kids participate in something school-related off-campus, I have to sign things. If it's a trip overseas, I'd have to sign a phone book's worth of documents. Why has there been no paperwork?

Why is the choral director threatening you with your daughter's graduation? That's not up to him, it's up to the principal and the school. Your next step should immediately be to call the principal to clear up this issue. Ask why there hasn't been paperwork, as why you don't know the dates, and for heaven's sake, ask why the director is threatening to not allow your kid to graduate.

Ultimately, you did agree verbally that your daughter would be going. In the future, if you don't want your kid going to something (and especially if she doesn't want to go), don't agree to it.
posted by cooker girl at 9:52 AM on January 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Thanks for the clarification, kinetic.

What I want to know is what's my best way of dealing with the school saying I owe them money?

Approach the problem from the initial fact that you do, in fact, owe them money, and work from there.

Talk to the school about what you can do to either transfer this scholarship to someone else who could use it, or to forgive this debt. Who is someone you could talk to from within the school, other than the choral director? Definitely go above this guy's head. Other people are right that it wouldn't be up to the choral director himself to bunk your daughter's graduation, but on the other hand, many schools won't give you your diploma if you owe the school even outstanding library fines.

Where did this scholarship come from - inside or outside the school itself? What paper trail exists of this scholarship?

If you haven't already done this, pick up a book like Getting to Yes and do that sort of homework on this problem. Approach the school with clear, consistent, polite demands.

(On the other hand, my Baltic heritage obligates me to insist that Estonia would probably be pretty cool to see. Not that your daughter has to go there right now.)
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:56 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


if she doesn't go, they don't get the scholarship money

If she doesn't go, they don't need the scholarship money. This isn't a reason for them to want $3000 from you.
posted by kindall at 9:56 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why did you reluctantly agree (without signature) for your daughter to go on a trip that really did not want to go on?
posted by dgeiser13 at 9:56 AM on January 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Last complicating factor: my youngest will have the same teacher in a few years, so I want to do what's right for her, for the school, and to ensure my youngest doesn't get screwed.

I think this all hinges on whether or not the plane tickets have been purchased.

If the tickets have already been purchased, you kind of screwed the school. If you had been upfront about your daughter not wanting to go in the first place (even if you had to couch it in terms of you not wanting her to go to another continent without your direct supervision) and said absolutely not, no way, they would have just carried on without her.

If the tickets have not been purchased, then the director is crazy with this talk of not graduating (which is something that he probably has no control over anyway) and you should definitely involve his supervisor and the principal.
posted by crankylex at 9:57 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there any possibility of giving this trip over to someone who truly wants it?

Because I would have died for an opportunity like this.
posted by theraflu at 9:57 AM on January 18, 2012


If she doesn't go, they don't need the scholarship money. This isn't a reason for them to want $3000 from you.

This depends on how the scholarship was granted.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:57 AM on January 18, 2012


I added in my kid's perspective because people had asked. To me, it wasn't relevant because the question wasn't "Should she go to Europe or not?"

And I am smacking myself for my original poor wording and crap communication, but it seems to be part of the reason I'm in this mess.

I never actually said yes or no to her going. I never signed anything. Nada.

All I did was tell the choral director that I couldn't afford it, and he responded that many kids qualified for scholarships. There was NO COMMUNICATION after that with him.

When I said I reluctantly agreed, I mean that I never specifically said that I didn't want my kid going to Estonia, Finland and Belarus. I said nothing and gave him no indication that she didn't want to go.
posted by kinetic at 9:58 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seems really fishy to me that they would ban her from graduation over this. Go straight to the administration; don't bother with music teacher. I'm not even sure this would be legal, if it's a public school. If it's a private school, ask what regulations & agreements are relevant, and go from there.
posted by yarly at 9:59 AM on January 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Why did you reluctantly agree (without signature) for your daughter to go on a trip that really did not want to go on?

Because most parents thought that it would never happen. There were no emails, no deposits, no paperwork, nothing to indicate the trip was anything but a pipe dream. So most of us said nothing. Parents are now being told to pony up and MANY are saying, "No thanks."
posted by kinetic at 10:00 AM on January 18, 2012


It is possible that the schooled incurred a $3,000 cost on the basis of a free-school-lunch kid going on the trip. The school may only get reimbursed for the expense if the free-school-lunch kid goes on the trip. Therefore your daughter needs to go or you need to pony up. This is known as making good on commitments, even if they happen to be inconvenient.

Of course, talk to them about it and see if they're flexible. But if not, I'd say that you made the commitment. The lack of signature doesn't mean anything. You're not denying that you agreed she would go.
posted by alms at 10:00 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Parents are now being told to pony up and MANY are saying, "No thanks."

THIS is how you get out of it. If there's a bunch of people in this same situation you need to organize and approach the administration as a group. Something tells me the school's "no graduation" bargaining chip won't be worth as much when there's a dozen kids involved instead of just one.
posted by griphus at 10:02 AM on January 18, 2012 [38 favorites]


I reluctantly agreed.

Hrrm....

Ok, so I'm going to strike this statement from my memory and try to re-evaluate things, because if it was open and shut case of "You made an agreeement, you should pay".

I guess it's clearer to say that I told the choral director I couldn't afford it, and he replied that many kids would qualify for scholarships.

If this is indeed the case then it seems like it's not even worth of an Askme, go directly to administration, do not pass Go, do not pay $3000.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:03 AM on January 18, 2012


There were no emails, no deposits, no paperwork, nothing to indicate the trip was anything but a pipe dream. So most of us said nothing. Parents are now being told to pony up and MANY are saying, "No thanks."

The entire group of you have to get together and present this issue to the school. I'm assuming that nothing's been booked, and this is the choral director's way of saving the trip for those who want to go. It seems as if there might be a critical mass of parents who don't want this trip to happen, and getting together with them to work as a group, rather than as individuals, is the best way to go.
posted by xingcat at 10:04 AM on January 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


This is all really weird. They're supposed to be going in 3 months but kids are still dropping out? Again, when I did the band-trip thing in high school you had to put down a non-refundable deposit and get signatures from your parents at the beginning of the school year for a spring-break trip. By January you had to have paid at least half, if not all, of the total cost or you weren't going. No one was dropping out in January because everyone had put at least $1500 in by that point. We had our entire itinerary set by Christmas.

I'm kind of thinking that the trip will end up getting canceled anyway if it's supposed to be in April and there still isn't a confirmed itinerary (and there still aren't written, binding confirmations from parents?)
posted by nakedmolerats at 10:05 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


[Folks OP has been clear that the question isn't "Should my kid go on this trip?" Please answer the question being asked or go to MeTa about it. Thanks.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:05 AM on January 18, 2012


I'm not seeing the obligation that others are seeing. I would just keep stating, "I'm sorry, my daughter can no longer attend." In response to you must re-pay, I would say, "I'm sorry, that's not possible." I don't understand how anyone is "out" $3,000. Presumably they have not yet purchased an airplane ticket in your daughter's name, which is the only way I can imagine any money getting tied up (and it would be at most $1,200).
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:05 AM on January 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't see how the school can be on the hook for $3000 with absolutely nothing in writing from the parent. Schools just don't work that way. I really can't image any bureaucracy laden organization like a school buying plane tickets without reams of paperwork being signed, and possibly even deposits required from each student. Combine these weird facts with the odd behavior of the choral director and I'd guess the choral director has screwed up something big, and is in CYA mode. Or maybe there is more to the story that the OP doesn't know or isn't sharing.

If I was the parent here I'd talk to the principal, then maybe a lawyer. I sure as hell wouldn't agree to pay back $3000 for a trip I never really agreed to in the first place. And I wouldn't buckle under about the damn diploma either. If the daughter is already accepted into college and presumably has high SAT / ACT scores the actual diploma is kind of meaningless at this point. A lack of a diploma or even attending high school has not been an impediment in college admissions for my son at all.
posted by COD at 10:06 AM on January 18, 2012 [14 favorites]


Stop talking to the choral director. He or she is invested in getting as many kids as possible to go, especially since lots of people are dropping out, and may be losing perspective on this.

Take it up with the principle or a VP. They're the ones who would be able to stop your kid from graduating, and that's how you'll find out if this threat is real or not.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 10:09 AM on January 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


When I said I reluctantly agreed, I mean that I never specifically said that I didn't want my kid going to Estonia, Finland and Belarus. I said nothing and gave him no indication that she didn't want to go.

Wait, so she really is going to Belarus? I am impress.

It's going to be impossible to negotiate this with the school until you nail down exactly what you said, what was agreed upon, and what was not. You really, really, really have to be consistent about this. Look at how much of a pile-on this thread was until you clarified yourself.

I'm not saying this to be a dick; I'm trying to be helpful. If I was a lawyer at the school helping out with the negotiation, and you said, "I reluctantly agreed," I would then nod politely, excuse myself, go to the bathroom, shut the door, and do a happy dance.

Honest question: are you saying that the choral director offered scholarships, and you just said something like "oh, okay" to end the conversation? Because even as far as platitudes go, there's a world of potential difference between "oh, okay" and "I'd have to think about it."

That said, I agree with everyone post-clarification that this all sounds weird. Go over the choral director's head and talk to the principal. If a bunch of people are in a similar boat as you, this should be much easier. Figure out what the deal was with this scholarship and talk to the right people to see if they can't shove this money back into their coffers.

To sum up: clarify what happened, and then do some footwork to talk to the right people, in that order.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:10 AM on January 18, 2012 [17 favorites]


If approaching the administration doesn't work (and it's not a private school) try talking to school board members. From your description, the choir teacher is probably not following proper procedure.
posted by drezdn at 10:11 AM on January 18, 2012


This doesn't make any sense. Wouldn't the European venues need to have been confirmed long ago? Deposits taken? Giant bunches of forms signed? Even if there were a big group of students eager and able to go, I don't think the trip could happen in three months time. If you take it to the principal, hopefully the whole matter will be taken care of - under these circumstances, I don't see how it could be taken that you and your daughter agreed to the trip.
posted by PussKillian at 10:12 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is the Choir director saying your kid won't graduate or won't get to participate in graduation? If this is a public high school and your child has completed necessary credits for a high school diploma, it's unlikely she can be denied one over something like this. It's easy to imagine that they won't let her walk at graduation, however. Clarify that but talking with the administration.

You should start talking to the principal, or administration, at this point, anyway. Write a dispassionate letter, laying out the facts:
On [date], Choir Director told us about proposed trip. We expressed that Child was not interested in attending and could not afford to participate in the trip.
On [date], Choir Director told us scholarships were available for Trip.
On [date], Child was informed of Program at University she will be attending in the fall. On [date], Child was informed of the dates of the Proposed Choir Trip. As the dates overlap, Child intends to attend University Program.
On [date], I informed Choir Director that Child would be at University during the proposed trip, whereupon Choir Director told me I must pay $3000 for the choir trip or Child would not be permitted to graduate.
I did not sign a permission slip or other document committing Child to the proposed trip.
Does the school intend to withhold Child's diploma if she does not participate in trip? Alternately, does the school intend to withhold Child's diploma if I do not reimburse the school $3000 for the proposed choir trip?
Does the school intend to bar Child from participating in the graduation ceremony if she does not participate in the trip or reimburse the $3000?
Please respond by [date].
Sincerely.
Parent.

If other parents are similarly being told to pay for a trip they are not taking and did not agree to, you might ask them to send letters as well.

You might consider involving the Dean of Students at your child's university. I am not sure that I would do this, unless the school's administration begins threatening to withhold your child's diploma, but they may be able to help straighten it out.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:15 AM on January 18, 2012 [13 favorites]


The choral director assumed that you/your daugther (other families as well) wanted to attend but could not because of the financials. I think the best bet is banding together with the parents who also don't want to pay for this and appealing to the adminstration. There is much that seems a bit unclear or fuzzy here, but I believe the burden of effort lies on the choral director proving that you and the other parents agreed that your children would go on the trip. Is the directorsaying your daughter won't graduate as in the cermeony or that she would not be awarded the diploma on her record? If so, I'd be talking to the school board (if applicable)as well. There are ways to get around it but they may cost more than the 3K.

The main thing is that i think that as long as this is all coming from the choral director and not from the adminstration, you might have quite a bit of leeway.
posted by sm1tten at 10:17 AM on January 18, 2012


I'm not saying this to be a dick; I'm trying to be helpful. If I was a lawyer at the school helping out with the negotiation, and you said, "I reluctantly agreed," I would then nod politely, excuse myself, go to the bathroom, shut the door, and do a happy dance.

On that note, you might want to get this question set to anonymous, IF you really agreed or were overly ambiguous concerning this AND the school is out money (which may or may not be the case in the face of the crazy planning) AND they want to press the issue then this isn't a good question to have your name on it based upon the previous statements.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:18 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is no conceivable way that you actually owe $3000 here, if your previous conversation was as passing as you indicate and no paperwork has been signed. It's simply a matter of talking to the right person to confirm this (as others have indicated). So that's what I would do. Talk to the right person who is not the choir director.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:19 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Parents are now being told to pony up and MANY are saying, "No thanks."

Call up or gather those parents and march into the Principal's office to ask for clarification. Going in as group would be much better than sending separate letters.

Even better, bring along a reporter, make it plain that there's a reporter there and ask the Principal to clarify exactly who won't be getting their high school diploma and why.

If the school is going to be out the money, suggest widening the trip to other students at school as sort of cultural exchange/visit/trip etc. That way everyone saves face.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:22 AM on January 18, 2012


You say this in your coment:

I never actually said yes or no to her going. I never signed anything. Nada.

But in your question you said:

the school said they would arrange a scholarship for her to attend, and based on peer pressure, I reluctantly agreed.

So it kind of looks like you did agree, even if you didn't sign anything. This would seem to be at odds to the bit where you never said yes or no. You say you said 'yes'!
posted by biffa at 10:22 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


On that note, you might want to get this question set to anonymous, IF you really agreed or were overly ambiguous concerning this AND the school is out money (which may or may not be the case in the face of the crazy planning) AND they want to press the issue then this isn't a good question to have your name on it based upon the previous statements.

Yes, this. If I were the school's lawyer, I would do a very, very happy dance if I found this question.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:23 AM on January 18, 2012


I'm guessing that in September, they did an informal check to see if the trip was even feasible but it sounds like the choral director has bullied/pressured many people into agreeing to go even if they didn't want to so that he could get the number the school said he needed to make the trip possible and now the time has come to confirm the details and get permission slips signed etc (kinda late notice for such a large expense IMO) and he's facing lots of people dropping out so when you called him, he got stroppy and is making idle threats to try to get people to go. The school administration may have no idea that he is making these threats.

First I would find out under what non-academic circumstances (if any) the school can prevent your daughter from graduating. If unpaid debts are a valid circumstance, there should still be a procedure to appeal - they have no proof of the debt. Even if you had verbally agreed (which you now say you didn't), they have no proof of that agreement. I would be very surprised if they were able to prevent your daughter graduation over a debt they can't prove you owe.
posted by missmagenta at 10:23 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Honest question: are you saying that the choral director offered scholarships, and you just said something like "oh, okay" to end the conversation? Because even as far as platitudes go, there's a world of potential difference between "oh, okay" and "I'd have to think about it."

I received one email (sent to all select chorus parents) about his hopes for this trip...rough dates, rough price. No money or signatures needed. My kid said she didn't want to go, after talking to other parents it all seemed very airy-fairy and nebulous and highly improbable.

I replied via email, "I can't afford this trip," the choral director wrote in an email, "Kinetic, scholarships are available to those who qualify. Kinetic Jr. qualifies."

After that, nothing. I wrote him 1/9 that my kid had a conflict with the dates, his response, "You are responsible for reimbursing the school for $3,000 or Kinetic Jr. will not be allowed to graduate."
posted by kinetic at 10:23 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Call the principal, right now. Explain to him/her exactly what you stated in your latest update. EXACTLY.

Especially the part where the choral director wrote in an email: "You are responsible for reimbursing the school for $3,000 or Kinetic Jr. will not be allowed to graduate."

Ask him/her just what the heck is going on here.
posted by cooker girl at 10:26 AM on January 18, 2012 [35 favorites]


I think you need to go on a fact-finding mission. Do it as non-confrontationally as possible (because people will clam up if they feel defensive) and talk to other parents (scholarship qualifying and non), the choir director and the VP or principal. I can't imagine how anyone could be on the hook for anything based on your email exchange and possibly asking a lot of questions could be enough to make this disappear.

FWIW, I think that if--somehow--$3K worth of something has been paid for on behalf of your daughter by the school, you should think of it as if it had been your $3K when it comes to making your decision about whether she should attend or not.
posted by looli at 10:30 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Something else I'm wondering: if they're going in three months, they'll need visas - three months to get all these visas lined up isn't impossible by any means, but it's definitely at the "you have to do this right now" point, especially assuming that some kids probably don't have up to date passports. And how could the tickets be booked? You have to provide date of birth and names spelled as they appear on the passports (which is something you would need to confirm with the school as their records may not be complete)...there's no way these tickets are booked.

Yes, perhaps it was unwise to semi-agree (although your commitment doesn't seem especially clear, and if I were the choir director (I plan events as part of my job) I would have been getting a firm commitment from everyone via email for my records long ago)...anyway, perhaps it was unwise to semi-agree, but it's extremely poor form of the school to try to soak you for money when it seems like they couldn't possibly have incurred significant costs yet.
posted by Frowner at 10:32 AM on January 18, 2012


I replied via email, "I can't afford this trip," the choral director wrote in an email, "Kinetic, scholarships are available to those who qualify. Kinetic Jr. qualifies."

After that, nothing. I wrote him 1/9 that my kid had a conflict with the dates, his response, "You are responsible for reimbursing the school for $3,000 or Kinetic Jr. will not be allowed to graduate."


This makes me really, really, really confused why you had initially said that, due to peer pressure, you reluctantly agreed. If this last clarification is indeed what happened, then I wish you the best of luck in getting out of this pickle.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:33 AM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


You did not sign anything. The choral director has a responsibility to have signed waivers for the kids to go and either collect deposits or sign scholarship forms.

Talk to the principal, ignore the choral director. Implying permission is not the same as giving it. I suggest talking to the principal face to face if at all possible. You may get a sob story, but stay polite and firm. The worst scenario is that you have to take it to the school board, but that's highly unlikely.

I'd even suggest printing out the entirety of your email exchange with the director in order to point out how utterly inappropriate his actions are. Don't worry about your youngest, they likely aren't going to have this teacher since I'd be surprised someone pulling this kind of stunt will be there for long.

I'm not even sure I'd suggest "suck it up and go anyway" as an option, because something this poorly set up may mean the "scholarship" may or may not exist, or it may be a thing the director is relying on but could fall through. You're being bullied here. The principal's job is to put an end to this nonsense.
posted by Saydur at 10:35 AM on January 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Here is your script for an email exchange with the Principal:

You: I'm told I owe $3000. Is this correct?
Principal: [Yes]
You: Why?
Principal: [You agreed to accept a scholarship]
You: Please provide some documentation of this fact.
Principal: [You must have verbally agreed]
You: I did not. Are you going to let Kinetic Jr. graduate, or do I need to speak to a lawyer?
Principal: [No, you must pay]
You: Lawyer Up!
posted by Rock Steady at 10:35 AM on January 18, 2012 [20 favorites]


Even if you agreed your child would go, and are now "breaking" this agreement, I don't see the financial harm to the school/chorus. To the extent somehow money is tied up (not sure how), that money would be tied up either way (with child going or not going). The absence of the child is no more expensive than the attendance of the child, and is likely cheaper.

Possibly the choral director put down his own money as a deposit? But this would not be in reliance upon a single child agreeing to go, it would be based on the hope/belief that a group of children would go. If the trip ends up cancelled, he may have a loss, but it's not due to you.

Shorter: I don't understand the theory of liability/damages. Contract damages are based on actual loss caused by non-performance.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:36 AM on January 18, 2012


Second calling the principal ASAP -- there is no way a trip like this (cost or itinerary) can just be planned by a teacher without direct administrative knowledge and support.
It seems like the Choral Director has an investment in this trip (professionally? socially?) and might be defending a trip he feels strongly about, especially if so many people don't want to go.
Nevertheless, the principal needs to step in. You can't take away a right to graduate from someone who has completed the requirements.
It's a public school, right? Take it to the superintendent if needed.
posted by mamabear at 10:37 AM on January 18, 2012


Even if kinetic did make a verbal agreement, I don't see how a verbal agreement creates any legal obligation here. There are plenty of other posts on Ask MeFi where someone says "so-and-so made a verbal agreement with me to [blah blah blah] and they aren't following through!" and the reply is always tough luck, verbal agreements aren't legally binding and you need to get things in writing.

(I am not a lawyer. I just wonder why the contradictory advice given here compared to all those other times that people post about verbal agreements that aren't honored.)
posted by joan_holloway at 10:41 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


If other parents are being asked to pay up, get a group of as many of these parents as possible who have concerns about the trip and make an appointment with the Principal en mass.

Have prepared a list of concerns of all involved. Lack of organization, documentation and communication, resultant concern for safety of the children, lack of clear communication that a scholarship was being arranged for children without clear, documented commitments from parents, etc.

Present this list to the Principal along with the demand that she document that none of you have any financial obligation to the school for this trip and that non-payment will not affect any of your childrens' graduations.

If she won't agree, your next step is to assure her that she will be hearing from your collective lawyer.
posted by rocketpup at 10:45 AM on January 18, 2012


Even if kinetic did make a verbal agreement, I don't see how a verbal agreement creates any legal obligation here.

Pretty much. Having put a kid through high school, the amount of paperwork for trips 2 hours away was insane, so I can't imagine what week long trip overseas school trip would be like.

If there is no paperwork from the school, I'm betting they don't have leg to stand on. Call'em on that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:48 AM on January 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


verbal agreements aren't legally binding

Verbal contracts are generally enforceable. Their contents may be hard to prove, which is why you should always get contracts in writing, but this does not mean that you can call up a pizza place, order ten pizzas, and then when they arrive, refuse to accept and pay for those pizzas.

There are statutes of frauds which govern which contracts must be in writing to be enforceable, but this situation would not necessarily fall under the statute of frauds for whatever state the OP is in.

Of course, it's not even clear if there was a contract here in the first place.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:50 AM on January 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Before going to the Principal I think a response to the choral director to the effect of 1) We've made the decision that is bast for Jr. and we won't be reconsidering it, 2) I never agreed to any financial commitment to this trip and so I have nothing to reimburse and 3) can we consider this matter closed or do we take this up with the principal?

Stick to the line that you made no agreement of any kind; it is their obligation to demonstrate that you did. Your child is in no danger of not graduating until you have something in writing from a person of authority at the school (not the director) stating that your child will not be allowed to graduate. I think the director is just trying to strong arm you. Stick to the facts, I would be incredibly surprised if it is not dropped very quickly at signs of resistance. I don't think the director could possibly have any school sanction for making the claim he has. Graduation and any need to invoke lawyers are a long way off. If your presentation of the facts is correct the school would have absolutely no basis to prevent your child's graduation.

As far as your next kid, you can't try to deal with fallout in advance, and a lot can happen in a few years. Be polite, don't suggest the director is anything but mistaken in their belief about any obligation you have made, don't make it personal, go above their head only if you need to and with with the director informed that you will do so only if it can't be otherwise resolved.
posted by nanojath at 10:57 AM on January 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Your next step is to deal with the appropriate administrator, most likely the principal, and not the choral director.

Don't even tell the choral director you're going to the principal; see if you can get your side of the story to the principal first.

If you need to, meet in person with the principal. If the meeting does not go well, don't panic. Don't say anything rash or dumb that will only make the school entrench its position further. But do ask for copies of the written policy or policies on which they base their position. That information will help you if you need to take additional action.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:59 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rock Steady has the answer. You didn't agree to this trip. They therefore have nothing showing that you agreed to this trip. It's their problem. Make them realize that. This teacher was too excited at his own idea and booked students after making assumptions.
posted by Dasein at 11:09 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


If all you're saying up until this point is accurate, there's no way you owe the school $3000. It sounds like the choral director is trying to coerce students to go on this trip, and if too many people decline the trip won't happen at all - so he's trying to avoid that. The details are way too wishy washy for this to be official. No exact dates yet? No paperwork, not even for this supposed scholarship that is paying for her to go?

Going to Europe as a school field trip is a big deal, and this sounds really fishy. Definitely talk to the school principal, and get the other parents involved too.
posted by wondermouse at 11:10 AM on January 18, 2012


My approach would be "We have different recollections about how that conversation went all those months ago. And since there was never any paperwork signed on any of this, I will not accept any financial responsibility that you have taken on in my name."
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 11:16 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know, I've read this whole thread, and I still don't understand what this part of your original statement could possibly be referring to, based on your later clarifications:

Because my kids qualify for free lunch, the school said they would arrange a scholarship for her to attend, and based on peer pressure, I reluctantly agreed.

"Based on peer pressure"? What peer pressure? If the minimal email discussion you detail above was, in fact, all the communication on this issue that took place, then that statement just seems bizarrely unmotivated.

I'm afraid that I can only assume--based on the radical change in your story as this thread has progressed--that you're not being entirely candid with us about what happened here. I don't think it matters all that much whether you are entirely candid in a discussion on AskMe, but I think you should be in your discussion with the school. I don't think it matters much at all what is or is not provable in writing. I think what matters is whether you are personally responsible for putting anyone in the position of raising or spending $3000 for your daughter's choir trip. If so, then she should go on the trip or you should pay the money. If not, then you clearly don't owe anyone anything. But again, this is not a question of whether any documents were signed or emails sent, it's a question of what you said and how someone would reasonably interpret those statements. Based on your original description of the sequence of events ("I reluctantly agreed") you certainly have a moral obligation to reimburse the money or to send your daughter on the trip. If you think that original description was incorrect you need to be able to satisfactorily account to yourself why you originally thought that this was the best way to describe what had transpired.
posted by yoink at 11:18 AM on January 18, 2012 [12 favorites]


I don't see how the school can be on the hook for $3000 with absolutely nothing in writing from the parent. Schools just don't work that way.

Exactly. Vain and ambitious choral directors however, seem to.

This is an empty threat, as you will find out as soon as you and the other parents speak to the principal about it.
posted by Dragonness at 11:18 AM on January 18, 2012


The choral director's mouth is making threats his ass can't keep, basically. On the off chance the principal doesn't back you up, which is very unlikely, a quick letter from a lawyer will straighten them out fast. Go in with other parents to pay for it and it's unlikely to even be very expensive.
posted by hazyjane at 11:18 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you didn't sign something saying you would owe them the money if your kid didn't go on the trip, then you don't owe them the money. IANAL, but I know enough about the law to know that.

If I were you, I would go to the principal and explain exactly what the situation is, particularly the choral director's threat. (Does the choral director have a grade to provide your daughter? Because if so, that would be a way the director could ensure she doesn't graduate, in theory at least.) It doesn't even matter what the reason is why you don't want her to go on the trip -- you don't want her to go, you're her parent, that's it, enough, full stop. Simply say you don't want her to go on the trip, and that you don't feel you owe anyone any money because you never entered an agreement with anyone that says you do.

If the principal gives you grief, go over his/her head. Go to the school system's superintendent, if there is one, or to the school board. In the unlikely event that everyone gives you grief, call a lawyer and have him/her call the officials, noting that you fully expect your daughter to graduate, but that you have no intention of paying this money, and if your daughter is prevented from graduating for this reason you will sue them. I doubt it'd come to that, but you never know.

If necessary point out that you're actually doing them a favor by telling them way ahead of time that she's not going. Suppose she were planning to go and then got sick just before the trip started? Suppose a family member died and she had to go to the funeral? There are all sorts of reasons you might've had to cancel at the last minute, and they really couldn't have reasonably asked you to pay the money in those cases, either.

Good luck!
posted by cerebus19 at 11:19 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm a teacher. There is not way that these kids are going on an international trip without reams of documentation, as has been mentioned. By that fact alone, something fishy is up. Talk to the principal first, but you don't need to level threats or bring a reporter (yet). Explain to the principal the situation just as you have in your latest updates. I'm willing to bet that this is the choir teacher working without the principal really knowing what is going on.

Then, if the problem still exists after talking to the principal, I would consult with a lawyer and maybe a reporter. Your local bar association should be able to provide you with the number of a lawyer that can give you a free half hour consultation.

People are giving you flack for "agreeing" to the trip, but I don't think that anyone should say that holds you accountable. In any serious transaction (and I would say that $3000 is a serious transaction), a verbal agreement is not the same thing as signing on the dotted line. If I tell a car salesman that I'm going to come back tomorrow and buy a car, I'm not on the hook for the price of the car if I choose to never set foot in the dealership again. This is what deposits are for. Tell the principal that as you had only received one single email from a teacher that wants to take your child halfway around the world, you assumed (as any sane person would), that this trip was not going to come to fruition.
posted by Nightman at 11:22 AM on January 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Is your daughter 18?

If so, that's a whole different can of worms, because as a legal adult, she could legally sign all the paperwork and commit to the trip without your knowledge. We also don't know what she communicated with the choir director (regardless of her age). That could be a very important component to this story, because the remainder of what you've told us doesn't add up at all.
posted by schmod at 11:27 AM on January 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


Even if kinetic did make a verbal agreement, I don't see how a verbal agreement creates any legal obligation here. There are plenty of other posts on Ask MeFi where someone says "so-and-so made a verbal agreement with me to [blah blah blah] and they aren't following through!" and the reply is always tough luck, verbal agreements aren't legally binding and you need to get things in writing.
---
In any serious transaction (and I would say that $3000 is a serious transaction), a verbal agreement is not the same thing as signing on the dotted line.

This is not legal advice, and I am not your (or the OP's) lawyer--but there really are only a small subset of agreements that must be in writing to be binding under something called the statute of frauds (generally, transactions involving real estate, leases of greater than a year, contracts for services that cannot by their terms be completed within a year, contracts for goods over a certain amount and maybe one other--it's been a while). When wikipedia comes back online tomorrow, you can look it up.

Again, I'm not anyone's lawyer, and I'm not providing legal advice--but do be aware that some of the statements in this thread about whether a verbal agreement is legally binding are far, far off the mark.

OP, if you talk to the principal and s/he stands behind the choral director, I'd be prepared to lawyer up.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:27 AM on January 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


If I tell a car salesman that I'm going to come back tomorrow and buy a car, I'm not on the hook for the price of the car if I choose to never set foot in the dealership again.

No, because it's entirely understood that at the very most this means "I intend to initiate the buying process tomorrow." If, on the other hand, I go into a florist's shop and ask them to make me a giant flower arrangement and I tell them "I'll come in and pick it up tomorrow"--I'm entirely morally and legally obliged to pay for it regardless of whether or not I pass another florist's shop on the way home and decide that I like their flower arrangements more. And this is true regardless of whether or not anything was put down in writing.
posted by yoink at 11:28 AM on January 18, 2012


"If approaching the administration doesn't work (and it's not a private school) try talking to school board members. From your description, the choir teacher is probably not following proper procedure."

"If the principal gives you grief, go over his/her head. Go to the school system's superintendent, if there is one, or to the school board."


FYI, this is a situation in which a school board has little to no authority -- or, more to the point, no real levers to pull. Our ability to get something done in this matter would be pretty limited to letting the superintendent know about The Stupid that was occurring and urging him or her to fix it. (Ours would. Yours may or may not.)

That said, if a teacher came to us and said, "I need you to forbid [student who has otherwise fulfilled all other obligations] from graduating because I arranged for a donor to provide a $3000 scholarship and irrevocably committed it by buying tickets or something stupid like that before ensuring the student had signed permission slips, waivers, a passport, etc.," our answer would be, "Are you fucking kidding us?" It's pretty clear that if there's no paperwork, the school is out that $3000. It's possible the teacher is trying to cover his ass because he KNOWS the principal/superintendent/school board are going to be real unhappy with him for failing to follow procedure. What's unclear is whether the trip will simply fall through, whether he'll have to return the $3000 to the donor, or whether he actually managed to irrevocably commit school (and donor) funds without a firm commitment from students.

We do have teachers who do this all the time, btw, who decide that it's better to ask forgiveness than permission when arranging field trips and other things -- that if 30 or 300 students' parents get pissed that their kids' trip to the museum is going to be cancelled because the teacher didn't do the paperwork on time (or at all), the administration will cave and let it pass just this once. We don't, because it exposes us to so much legal liability (not just if students were hurt but there can be accounting shenanigans with student activity funds and so on), and that sort of stuff can end up in the teacher's HR file.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:33 AM on January 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


"Is your daughter 18? If so, that's a whole different can of worms, because as a legal adult, she could legally sign all the paperwork and commit to the trip without your knowledge."

Maybe. Many states have statutes that 18-year-olds who are still in high school are treated as minors for some purposes (for example, students can't have sex with employees of the school, even if those students are of legal age, in most states). There may be a law or a school board policy that students who are 18 and still live at home must still get permission from parents. (My high school had such a policy, I discovered when I attempted it.)

If your daughter signed anything (whether she's 18 or not, though it's far more potentially problematic if she's 18), that's potentially a problem if you get to the lawyering up stage, but don't consider it defeat without talking to that knowledgable lawyer in your jurisdiction.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:38 AM on January 18, 2012


I agree with everyone upthread who has mentioned how strange it is that a trip to ESTONIA is being planned three months away and nothing has been signed. No visa applications, no passport checks, no permission slips, insurance coverages, exact dates, chaperone calls, flight details. I would talk to other parents and see if they have heard as little as you have.
posted by amicamentis at 11:41 AM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


The hole I see in your story is this: the fact that you emailed him on 1/9 to say that she could not attend due to a conflict in dates indicates that up until that point, you also were under the impression that she was scheduled for this trip, scholarship or no.

I don't think she should have to go and I hope talking to an administrator resolves this without you being out $3K, but I wanted to point out that inconsistency so you can determine how to address it if/when the music director or the principle points it out.
posted by juliplease at 11:52 AM on January 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


No, because it's entirely understood that at the very most this means "I intend to initiate the buying process tomorrow." If, on the other hand, I go into a florist's shop and ask them to make me a giant flower arrangement and I tell them "I'll come in and pick it up tomorrow"--I'm entirely morally and legally obliged to pay for it regardless of whether or not I pass another florist's shop on the way home and decide that I like their flower arrangements more.

Sure, but if we accept what the OP is telling us, the choir teacher sent only one email to the parents that suggested the trip and outlined some estimated prices. When OP told the choir teacher she couldn't afford it, the choir teacher said that there was a scholarship available. OP said OK.

That is a far cry from saying, "Yes, we are definitely going to accept and use that scholarship and my daughter is going on the trip." I've been asked before if I would be interested in going on a trip with friends if my room was covered. In that case I said that yes, I would be interested. To me, the key to this whole story is that until just recently, there was only one communication that only discussed the possibility of a choir trip to Europe. It isn't like the OP was happily going along with the process and then decided to bail at the last minute. As far as I can tell, there was no process to speak of.

My school has yearly spring break trips for students, and OH MAN should you see the process that parents and students need to go through to be able to go on this trip. It isn't like the teachers gather the students in September, tell them the cost, and then say, "Well, see you at the airport in April." If we are talking about moral and ethical obligations of the OP, then I would suggest that the school is violating their moral and ethical obligations if they are treating parents expressing interest as an agreement to pay for their children to go on this trip.

I agree, it complicates things that the OP agreed to this scholorship, and maybe there is more to this story than we are hearing, but from the details provided, I think the school is trying to screw over a group of parents. Even if the school has purchased plane tickets, who would go and buy tickets if they haven't even checked to see if the students are actually going on the trip. It is crazy to put the onus for that blunder on the parents who weren't even consulted save for the first email.

If this becomes a legal matter, then some of the finer details, like verbal agreements, are going to be sticking points. But at this point I don't think the OP needs to feel like somehow she reneged on some well-established agreement that was in place. Talk to the principal rationally, and see if it can't be sorted out on that level. But I don't think you have anything to be apologizing for.
posted by Nightman at 11:56 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


A completely orthogonal suggestion to the above: could you find another student who could take your daughter's place on the trip (probably also one who would qualify for a scholarship)?
posted by Jabberwocky at 12:01 PM on January 18, 2012


In addition to all the other things that don't quite add up about this scenario, which have already been mentioned: How would the choral director magically know that your daughter qualifies for A $3000 scholarship?? I certainly hope that a choral director wouldn't have been entitled to rifle through financial information about your family kept at the school. And it does not sound like any sort of application was filled out. You said in your original post that it was because she qualified for free lunch. How does the choral director even know this? Are you leaving out some communication about the details of your finances?
posted by parrot_person at 12:12 PM on January 18, 2012


Oh, to be in a high school music group again, with all the attendent poor organizational skills and drama.

This solution is not easy, but it's simple. Deny that your daughter will go on the trip and refuse to pay the money. If anyone says anything about paying money, just say, "I don't understand. You want me to pay $3000 for the privilege of not sending my child on this trip?" Repeat it as often as necessary. Repeat it to the principal if you have to.

People will probably start to think you are kind of slow. That's OK. You're not the villain of this piece plus you get to keep your $3000 and your daughter will graduate.
posted by muddgirl at 12:28 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


In addition to all the other things that don't quite add up about this scenario, which have already been mentioned: How would the choral director magically know that your daughter qualifies for A $3000 scholarship??

I have no idea, actually.

You said in your original post that it was because she qualified for free lunch. How does the choral director even know this?

Not a freakin' clue.

Are you leaving out some communication about the details of your finances?

No.

I'm taking a Tylenol and marking this resolved.
posted by kinetic at 12:29 PM on January 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


Hear hear! Good luck Kinetic!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:34 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, kinetic, I am surprised at some of the responses that you have gotten in this thread and even more surprised at the situation. Please let us know how it is resolved.
posted by amicamentis at 12:37 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just FYI, teachers generally have access to information about which kids get free and reduced lunch. At my school, I assume all do, as that's pretty much the case from year to year.

Good luck clearing this up. It really sounds to me like the choral director is trying to save face/donor money by bullying you into the trip. A trip to the administrator on campus should actually solve the problem quickly and with minimal drama. I just hope he doesn't take it out on your kid after he gets his ass handed to him.

And next time, please make sure you're as clear as possible in your communications with him. Everything being in writing is a good plan.
posted by guster4lovers at 12:39 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


>What I want to know is what's my best way of dealing with the school saying I owe them money?

Approach the problem from the initial fact that you do, in fact, owe them money, and work from there.


The OP does not owe the school any money.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:39 PM on January 18, 2012


Agreeing with amicamentis - I'd ask the principal what on earth the choir director is requesting the money for - to pay for the flights that haven't been scheduled or the hotel that isn't booked for dates that are not yet decided on? Push back and go over his head. Please let us know how it turns out!
posted by 8dot3 at 12:41 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


The hole I see in your story is this: the fact that you emailed him on 1/9 to say that she could not attend due to a conflict in dates indicates that up until that point, you also were under the impression that she was scheduled for this trip, scholarship or no.

This argument doesn't make sense. All it suggests is that the OP had not formally declined until the 1/9 email. The plans seemed to have been "up in the air" (i.e. no side in this making a concrete decision about the details of the trip and who was responsible for paying what) up to that point, and rather than continuing to leave things that way the OP decided to officially confirm that her daughter would not be going on the trip.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:42 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Folks, question is in MetaTalk, do not pick this question apart if you can not be constructive and helpful. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:56 PM on January 18, 2012


If, on the other hand, I go into a florist's shop and ask them to make me a giant flower arrangement and I tell them "I'll come in and pick it up tomorrow"--I'm entirely morally and legally obliged to pay for it regardless of whether or not I pass another florist's shop on the way home and decide that I like their flower arrangements more.

This analogy doesn't make sense, by the way. I would expect a florist who's making a giant flower arrangement to require the customer to, at the very least, sign a contract that says this customer will come back and pay for the arrangement, if not requiring them to put down a deposit along with that.

Based on what happened with kinetic in this thread, it sounds to me like she was caught so off guard by this teacher threatening her daughter's graduation that she assumed she did something terribly wrong and didn't know what to think or how to respond. Whereas, to a third party (us), the ridiculously vague, wishy-washy details of this trip makes the whole situation sound insane, and like the teacher is making empty threats.

kinetic, good luck dealing with this. And try not to worry about backlash from this teacher aimed at your child in a few years, especially if you're not the only one fighting back. But I would be surprised if the school is at all supportive of the teacher's position and actions regarding this. It sounds outrageous.
posted by wondermouse at 1:07 PM on January 18, 2012


kinetic, big hugs to you for having to deal with the insanity of high school bureaucracy! Been there, done that, they should have t-shirts.

You do not owe the school anything. The choral director is a power-mad asshat who has gotten in over his head and is still, despite having no clue how to actually handle the logistics, insisting this so-called trip will take place. I doubt half the kids in the program even have passports.

I would talk to the principal about the outrageous behavior of the director. Make sure you do not indicate that you ever even reluctantly agreed to the trip if you did not, in writing, actually do so. Also get the other parents to do the same.

I think the choral director is suggesting that any kid who doesn't go on the trip will fail his class, and thus will not graduate. This is not going to happen, as their parents, like you, will be going to the principal with their complaints, and the director cannot fail them all.

[If the choral director keeps going at you, I would probably be tempted to respond that you would like the $3000, which you actually paid for the trip, back from him. And when he naturally replies he never got it? "It's with the permission slip and the scholarship forms."]
posted by misha at 1:49 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


My bet would be that your kid signed something.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:19 PM on January 18, 2012


roomthreeseventeen: "My bet would be that your kid signed something."

You would have lost that bet.
posted by kinetic at 2:23 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think you can get 3 our of 4 on this: Three things you can control:

1. You can get out of "paying back" $3,000
2. You can avoid sending your kid to Europe
3. You can get your kid to graduate on time.

But the 4th you can't:

4. You can stop there being any sort of negative consequence for your younger kid, who will have the same teacher later.

Because dealing with the first three require you to go over the teacher's head. And if no one else as brought it to the principal, and the principal speaks with the teacher, they will be talking about your child. But it's not clear there is a face saving method for the teacher - they sort of let that ship float by threatening your kid without graduation. As such, do what you need to do - contact the principal, but keep a close eye on the teacher when your younger student takes their class, assuming they remember you. You can't control their response, only how you will respond to how they treat your kid.
posted by anitanita at 3:27 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Kinetic:

1. It's most likely that the school is blowing smoke without really knowing what they're talking about. I find it almost impossible that you're actually on the hook for anything given the situation as you've described it. Can't say for sure, but this sounds a lot to me like an administrator who got in over their head and are fighting to cover their ass now with all the drop-outs.

Lawyer up if need be. You might very well be find someone near you to handle this one pro-bono, as this one sounds REALLY simple, but a few areas to look into. I bet one or more will apply:

Consideration: Gifts are NOT contracts. You and your daughter haven't done anything for this scholarship.
Minor Obligations: If your daughter is under 18 still, then you're likely 100% in the clear even if nothing else. If not, but she was 17 in September when this "agreement" was made, it doesn't sound like she's done anything in particular to ratify it. Likely no obligation on her part at all.
Statute of Frauds: Handles a number of things, and varies by jurisdiction, but determines what contracts must be in writing to be enforceable. Suretyship is one of the big ones. That is, a contract in which one person agrees to answer the debt of another. Could very possibly get you out of this one.

So look around. Then, when you go storming into the administrative office, ask where the contract is. Ask what they have in writing. Ask where your daughter's signature is, or yours. Ask where her right to graduate is contingent on going to Estonia. Ask every common sense question, and if they still relent, lawyer up. You should hopefully win.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:13 PM on January 18, 2012


Call the principal and say you never agreed for your kid to go on the trip. The End.
posted by xammerboy at 7:31 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


To make myself clearer on my points above:

Consideration: For a contract to be valid, there must be "consideration" on both sides. "Consideration" means that both parties agree to put forth something legally valuable towards the agreement, i.e. "I'll pay you $10 for your awesome grind-core album" or "I'll stop smoking if you pay my way through college." It gets complicated, but suffice it to say that "We'll cover Kinetic's daughter's trip to Estonia" doesn't meet it. It's what (might) be called a conditional gift, and is not generally enforceable as a contract.

Minor Obligations: A minor cannot be considered competent to contract. The way you've put this in your descriptions makes it sound like their putting your daughter on the hook for the "contract," by making her graduation conditional on either her attendance on this trip or you paying the difference. Even if she's 18 now, if she was 17 at the time the agreement was made, she'd need to have done SOMETHING after turning 18 in order to "ratify" the "contract." Ratification means that she continued to act under pre-existing duties outlined by the contract after turning of age. As I see no pre-existing duties or consideration at all, I find this unlikely.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:47 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Please do comeback and let us know how this turns out.
posted by LarryC at 8:39 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


This chorus teacher sounds like a doofus at best and a con artist at worst. This situation is so out of whack that I can't imagine the whole school/administration is behind this. If this trip was legit, you would have signed a million things by now. Many have suggested that you prepare for battle, basically, with the Principal -- and I agree that you should prepare for everything -- but I have a feeling that the Principal will either 1) not know about what's going on here, or 2) will have just learned about it and will be working on damage control.

I suggest, at least initially, going into the meeting with the Principal with a conciliatory attitude -- like 'there is some confusion with the choral director that we would like to get straightened out, and I'm sure you'll be able to help'. If the Principal's story turns out to match the choral director's, then ramp up your negotiations from there. Stand firm no matter what -- there is no way you owe money.
posted by imalaowai at 9:35 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Update 1: I have contacted the principal (with whom I have a pleasant and friendly history) and cc'ed the choral director (so he doesn't think I'm going above him) explaining the situation as clearly as I could.

I have heard nothing back yet.

In the meanwhile, my daughter is checking the weather for Belarus and going through her closet.
posted by kinetic at 3:29 AM on January 20, 2012


...well, I AM going above him. More that he doesn't think I'm going around him.

See? I am terrible at this.
posted by kinetic at 3:30 AM on January 20, 2012


See? I am terrible at this.

Just be very careful that you are as literal and as accurate as possible in your communications. If you have had a friendly relationship, you may find yourself making assumptions about what the principal does or doesn't think, or assuming that he/she will understand what you are talking about without your having to go into detail. Try as best you can to be crystal clear about your concerns and, more importantly, what results you expect. End each of your emails with a very clear statement about what you expect in the next stage of communication -- "I expect to hear back from you after you have spoken to Mr. Belarus on Teusday." or "I will consider this matter closed unless I hear otherwise." or "Please let me know what further information you need from me." or whatever is appropriate.

I find in these situations that it helps to envision myself communicating with a bright 10-year-old. I don't mean this as an insult to the principal, but just to remind you that you need to state everything very clearly, with no room for misinterpretation.

Good luck!
posted by Rock Steady at 6:46 AM on January 20, 2012


I immediately contacted her choral director (with many apologies) who said I need to reimburse the school $2900, or they would not allow her to graduate.

This may depend on one's definition of graduate.
In some states, school's cannot legally hold back a diploma due to unpaid dues & fees. Even threatening as such can land administrators in hot water. So in that sense, a school may not be able to prevent your kid's graduation regardless of paying the money depending on where you live. Of course, that says nothing of the graduation ceremony itself & walking.

You said in your original post that it was because she qualified for free lunch. How does the choral director even know this?
Not a freakin' clue.


I'm guessing they asked the lunch or finance department?
posted by jmd82 at 10:03 AM on January 20, 2012


What happened?

This is not legal advice, and I am not your (or the OP's) lawyer--but there really are only a small subset of agreements that must be in writing to be binding under something called the statute of frauds (generally, transactions involving real estate, leases of greater than a year, contracts for services that cannot by their terms be completed within a year, contracts for goods over a certain amount and maybe one other--it's been a while). When wikipedia comes back online tomorrow, you can look it up.

i'm not wiki'ing it, i'm just asserting baselessly that if i remember law school correctly, i think the last type of contract is contracts for marriage, which was always my favorite.
posted by anthropomorphic at 10:52 PM on January 21, 2012


Any more updates? I'm hoping this worked out well for you.
posted by Nightman at 8:46 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


UPDATE!!

I got an email from the choral director that absolved me of any financial obligation and my kid doesn't have to go. He was really pissy about it but had to admit that nothing was signed, nor was I ever informed that I was expected to reimburse the school in case of cancellation.

Phew.
posted by kinetic at 3:12 AM on February 1, 2012 [29 favorites]


Kickass! Thanks for letting us know.
posted by 8dot3 at 7:38 AM on February 2, 2012


ANOTHER UPDATE. Last night, teen daughter came home in tears. Turns out that both the choral director and the music director have been cornering her, questioning this decision to not go. The music director actually contacted her college to confirm this April orientation, explained about the trip, and asked if she could be allowed to skip orientation.

I am currently flabbergasted. I wrote an email telling them that I considered this harassment and that I expected their behavior to end immediately. Should I do more (besides call my Uncle Vito who is handy with a baseball bat)?
posted by kinetic at 3:23 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Holy crap! That is absolutely outrageous! Copy that email to the principal as well and state that you expect to be informed of how he or she dealt with these two.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:53 AM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wrote an email telling them that I considered this harassment and that I expected their behavior to end immediately.

I think you also write to the principal and either request a meeting or request that your daughter receive a full apology and no further harassment. I get that these people may be anxious and twitchy about this [which would be my best guess for their terrible behavior] but solid lines need to be drawn about this.

Related: I was in chorus in high school and couldn't go to the Big Performance for some reason that I don't even remember now and received a ton of shit about it from the chorus teacher. Basically my understanding is that they see chorus class/practice basically as not an end in and of itself but as practice leading to the big event and it seems to make them crazy when kids have other priorities in their lives. I'd also ask your daughter if she wants to continue with chorus because it should be an option for her at this point to just leave with no penalties because the adults who are running it are not behaving like adults.

Skip the baseball bat talk, act like an adult and just calmly tell the school that this is totally unacceptable and that they need to handle it.
posted by jessamyn at 8:16 AM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Skip the baseball bat talk, act like an adult and just calmly tell the school that this is totally unacceptable and that they need to handle it.

Yes. I would also look up who the next level of administration was above the principal and make it plain that you're willing to escalate this if the problem isn't taken quickly and finally solved.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:44 AM on February 8, 2012


The principal, and perhaps someone much more serious needs to be involved at this point, because this can still be easily resolved without too much drama.

I'm sorry to hear your daughter was so upset by this. The music director is out of line here. While cornering your daughter to ask her about the decision is annoying, and clearly upsetting to your daughter, it's your daughter's decision, she's a senior in high school, and can be expected to explain her decisions. But the subsequent "following up" is out of control.

My suggestion is to stop dealing with the music director and start dealing with the principal. Ask for a meeting in person. Do what you need to do to act calmly and professionally during the meeting. To the extent you can, avoid using words like "harassment." Let the facts speak for themselves.

The music director has no business calling your daughter's college. The decision has been made not to go, she's explained herself, it's time for this to end.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:24 AM on February 8, 2012


The music director has no business calling your daughter's college. The decision has been made not to go, she's explained herself, it's time for this to end.

I would request a meeting with the principle and the music director. I would say that, somewhat forcefully, and stare them in the eye until they either agree, or disagree. If they disagree, I would calmly state that obviously this needs to go up the chain of command, walk out, and call whoever the principal reports too.

I think you've played nice long enough, and it's time to get serious. Honestly, the music director's behavior borders on harassment.
posted by COD at 9:50 AM on February 8, 2012


Wow, have you spoken with a principal or superintendent (or fine arts director or whatever)? This is crazy out of line and inappropriate and (as a school board member) I think this teacher needs to be officially reprimanded at this point. Like in-the-HR-file reprimanded. I also have serious, serious questions about how he's managing either taxpayer or donor money that I think someone higher up the chain needs to be investigating.

Please contact someone up the chain not just for your daughter's sake (though OH MY GOD, so inappropriate, and she deserves an apology) but also because the school needs to know what kind of shenanigans this guy is pulling and what sort of liability he's exposing them to.

(We had an extracurricular-activity-money-handling staff member arrested for criminal fraud because of allegedly (trial pending) mishandling money in ways that could be similar to this. Let me tell you it is expensive for a district when the police and FBI (!!!) start going through the financial records.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:43 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


these people also need to apologize to your daughter. this is appalling.
posted by anthropomorphic at 8:39 PM on February 8, 2012


I didn't mention Uncle Vito (I really wasn't going to but argh this guy...seriously), but said that I felt contacting her college and speaking to her to reconsider was inappropriate.

The music director's response, "When I believe that a parent is misinformed and is not making a decision in the best interest of their child, it is my obligation to tell the parent."

I responded that I do not believe it's his call to give parents parenting advice but in any case, he instead spoke to my child, not me.

He apologized to my kid for speaking with her and not me.

Then he asked her to reconsider going on the trip but said no hard feelings if she didn't.
posted by kinetic at 3:36 AM on February 9, 2012


He then asked her to reconsider going? But no hard feelings if she didn't? What is wrong with him? The guy is amazing! I would certainly write a letter to the person senior to the principal. Someone needs to be aware of what is going on. Your poor daughter!
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:43 AM on February 9, 2012


Wow. With this level of interest from the music director in your daughter going on the trip... I wouldn't be surprised to find out that he already used the scholarship money for something else (not necessarily for himself, but in some manner that it was not intended) and he is panicking to cover his ass.
posted by amicamentis at 10:46 AM on February 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


« Older i left my heart on catalina   |   Hiking the Grand Canyon via the North Kaibab Trail Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.