HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The Dripping Springs Montessori School closed its doors and shut down business a little more than a month ago.
Parents said the school had been open for less than a year and they were shocked by the announcement.
Caught by surprise
Katie Baron said her two daughters started going there toward the middle of March. Just five weeks later, she said they got an email announcing the school was closing. The letter blamed a teacher shortage and said last month’s tuition would be refunded.
Baron said parents were only given eleven days’ worth of notice.
“Mostly for our kids, it was really sad,” Baron said.
It came as a surprise to her because she said a week before that email, there was a Parents Night with no mention of the school shutting down.
“They said they were expanding, and they were so excited about their plans to take over the space next door and have two different areas for the older kids and the younger kids to be divided,” Baron said. “You know, it seems like all these things were pointing to growth and everything was, you know, roses and sunshine.”
KXAN reached out to the owners and they responded with “no comment.”
Baron said she was reimbursed but she knows that’s not the case for others.
“I have heard from some parents who did not get their full reimbursement amount. I’ve heard from other people who had donated to the school and don’t know where that money went,” Baron said.
But looking at the contract parents signed, its unclear if others may get their money back. It required a non-refundable enrollment deposit for first and last month’s tuition payment plus registration and fees.
Baron said she’s most upset about the impact its had on her daughters.
“It really was sad for them,” she said. “You know, they’ve asked, you know, when are we going to go back to school?”
Not completely uncommon
Katie Galan serves as the Better Business Bureau’s regional director and said these situations aren’t completely unheard of.
“It’s not a super regular occurrence, but it does happen from time to time,” Galan said.
Typically, Galan added if a business closes, they are still liable to pay you back for uncompleted services.
“If you have paid tuition, if you have paid fees for their meals, for transportation, extracurricular activities, all of that money needs to be reimbursed to the customer ASAP,” Galan said.
But she said it gets tricky when there’s a contract involved stating its non-refundable.
In these situations, she also recommends parents check with the owners about the personal information they have on their children.
“Ask them what it is that they’re doing with with that paperwork that has that information. Make sure that it’s been properly taken care of, or take it back from them, if you’re able to do that,” Galan said. “But also be checking your child’s credit report, you know, for the next few months. Make sure that there isn’t kind of any suspicious activity.”
She said children are 35 times more likely to have their identity stolen than adults.