Is an enough to break a contract?
Some parents think so. Over the past week, two anonymous emails have been sent to the Patch, both written by parents arguing they should be able to get out of their contract with The Friendship School. And both parents said they are not alone.
enrolls children when they are 3 and 4 years old. Half of the children come from New London and half from Waterford. They are picked through a lottery system. Many parents try to get their children into the school from both towns; few are successful (about 100 apiece).
The parents then sign a contract saying they will keep their children in the school through kindergarten. The children join the New London or Waterford school district in first grade.
Waterford provides full-day kindergarten. Some parents have wanted their children to be moved out of The Friendship School when they turned 5 to join public school, but are denied because they signed the contract.
“We give them two free years of education, which basically amounts to two free years of day care,” First Selectman Dan Steward said.
The reasons given to move their child out of The Friendship School and into Waterford’s kindergarten are numerous, Friendship School Director Kathy Suprin said. Some want their 5-year-olds to go to the same school as their older siblings; others are annoyed because The Friendship School meets for only a half-day on Wednesdays, and starts later, so parents have to pay more in day care, she said.
“None of the letters we receive (asking to be moved out of The Friendship School) are about the quality of education they receive at the school; in fact, most are quite complimentary of the school,” Suprin said. “It is always for other reasons.”
Parents must send a letter requesting their removal from the school, and into Waterford’s public kindergarten. So far, Superintendent Jerome Belair and former superintendent Randall Collins have denied all those requests, Suprin said.
Arrest Grounds For Contract Breach?
In the emails Patch has received in the past week, parents allege they should be able to break the contract because the assistant director of The Friendship School,
Allison Robinson, was recently arrested for second-degree sexual assault. Robinson allegedly had sex with a 13-year-old middle school student in 2000-01, while she was the school psychologist at East Lyme Middle School.
One of the emails, sent by a person identified as “sorry,” also questioned the legality of Belair denying children a public education.
Suprin disagreed on both fronts. First off, the Friendship School is public education, so the latter argument is moot, she said.
As far as the arrest goes, it has “nothing to do with The Friendship School,” Suprin said. The arrest happened 10 years ago, in East Lyme, she said.
The superintendent denies all requests simply because of the logistics, Suprin said. The school district needs to know how many children it can expect in its kindergarten to have proper staffing, and allowing children to switch in the final year would throw that off, she said.
Also, bus routes need to be calculated for both The Friendship School and Waterford public schools, Suprin said. Adding an additional 110 children into the Waterford school district could add an additional bus route.
The Friendship School is a magnet school run by LEARN. The schools serves 220 kindergarten students, 110 from Waterford and 110 from New London. Children are allowed to leave The Friendship School if they move out of the New London or Waterford school districts, or they move to New London’s magnet school.
was not available for comment.