One of the most prestigious K-12 private schools in the desert is facing backlash from parents who said their students were unfairly expelled from the school and said they were never given a reimbursement on its pricey tuition.
Susan Rice is the Head of School at Palm Valley School, a prestigious private school in Rancho Mirage. Rice responds to parent’s claims first reported on The Desert Sun who said their students were expelled suddenly after they brought-up teacher turn-over mid-school year as an issue.
Rice said, “No, not because someone asked a question, absolutely not, no, and we spend a lot of time like I said trying to inform people of changes when they happen.”
A handful of parents shared their frustrations towards the school’s teacher turn-over with the newspaper. However, Rice was not able to confirm number of teachers who left the school due to privacy.
Rice said, “We don’t like teachers leaving mid-year, but again I cannot go into the specifics of that.”
Kiarash Noorizadeh is a parent of a student who attended Palm Valley School from the ages of five to 10 years-old. His son was expelled in March, he said the reason is for not showing-up for a meeting prompted by a heated email exchange between him and Rice over his son’s teacher leaving.
Noorizadeh said, “He was expelled in the middle of the year for no wrong doing of himself and we basically have not choice other than home schooling him.”
Him and other parents who’s kids attended Palm Valley School signed a contract that in part reads, “The school also may remove or otherwise dismiss student if Head of School concludes that any conduct of the parents or other persons interacting with the school and or school community by virtue of their relationship with the student may bring discredit to the school.”
In the newspaper article it mentions a judge ruling that sides with the school and its contract over tuition reimbursement.
“There is no provision for tuition refund, you know we base our budget each year we hire our teachers based on the total number of students that we have enrolled,” Rice said. “As I said before and you can see in the contract there are some reasons why we might have to part ways with the family but essentially they are bound by the terms of those contracts.”
It is important to mention private schools run much differently than public schools, and it is up to parents to understand the school contract fully and get to know the school staff.
However, for Noorizadeh and his son, he said the experience of being expelled mid-year through email was completely unexpected.