private schoolFor some cities, the hardest part of private school may be getting your child in  — as well as the politics of snagging a tutor. But once all the test scores have been looked over, the uniform has been bought, and that first tuition check has been written, most would assume that your next biggest problem is the PTA. But according to The New York Times, parents who find themselves unable to afford another year due to financial struggles could find themselves in court.

No, that’s actually not your disgruntled spouse scowling at you in the courtroom — it’s your son or daughter’s private school. The Times reports that since 2009, five NYC private schools have sued parents for tuition:

The schools’ argument is simple: Parents sign a contract when they accept placement, saying they will send their child to the school the next year and pay the agreed-upon price.

Even parents who end up pulling their child out for other standard, legitimate and sometimes unpredictable reasons — such as moving for a job — are up against some bitter schools. Like Frances Langbecker, whose daughter’s school sued her after six years, many of these parents have dedicated a lot to the school’s community, volunteering for events, fundraisers, and participating in the classroom. And for some families, lawyers aren’t the only way schools are coming after them:

…some parents have reported being threatened with debt collectors, leading many to cave and pay for an education their child will not receive. And defending a lawsuit is often not financially worthwhile, as the cost of a lawyer can approach the amount the school is demanding.

So for a new generation of parents, the etiquette is still evolving on how to tell your child’s private school that you’ll be parting ways, that it’s not working anymore, and that you have to go your separate ways — even after years together.

(photo: Lisa S./ Shutterstock)