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Parents are going bankrupt to send their kids to private school.

Private schools are going to extreme measures to make sure they get paid.

Rachel Rodda is a single mother on a low income. Now, she’s allegedly facing bankruptcy at the hands of her son’s former school.

Ms Rodda says she sent her son to Victoria’s prestigious Eltham College because she didn’t think the public schools in her area were up to scratch.

“I wasn’t happy with the government schools, I wasn’t zoned for one I would send my son to, I was trying to find the most suitable place for his education,” she told The Age. “I didn’t want my child to have a second-rate start.”

She claims the school never requested to see her financial documents — but said she was honest with them about not being able to pay the fees up front.

However, when Ms Rodda later removed her child from the school, Eltham College allegedly sought to bankrupt her, demanding she pay more than $12,500 in fees.

According to Fairfax Media, the total sum requested by the private school includes unpaid fees, as well as an added fine of $6,000 for withdrawing her child from school without sufficient  notice.

Read more: Private school students have no academic edge over public school students.

While debt mediator Ben Paris told Mamamia he’s never heard of this ‘drop-out fee,’ he said he commonly deals with clients facing bankruptcy, who can’t afford their child’s school fees.

“You have people making reasonable money, and they are spending a little bit more than they earn. Then something happens, [for example] someone has to change to a lower-earning job, and they don’t want to take their kids out of their school, but they can no longer afford it,” he explained to Mamamia.

“It’s like they say: Bankruptcy happens really slowly, then all of a sudden.”

private school fees melbourne
Private schools are bankrupting parents in order to get paid. Image: iStock.
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According to The Age, Eltham College has filed lawsuits against 17 families for unpaid fees.

And it isn’t alone.

Last year, Channel 7 conducted a similar investigation into NSW-based schools and found a number of private institutions legally seeking as little as $6,000 or as much as $28,000 from parents.

The Age also named Wesley College, Camberwell Grammar, Melbourne Girls Grammar and Geelong Grammar as serial offenders.

Read more: Why do parents keep choosing private schools?

Mr Paris said it’s rare the school is not willing to accommodate the families before pursuing legal action.

“It would be a weekly thing where we have a client going bankrupt, with their kids at a private school, and we’ll explain the financial situation to the school and they’ll negotiate,” he said.

However, in the Rodda’s peculiar case, Mr Paris said he can’t understand the school’s motivation.

“Given she’s a low-income, single parent, [Eltham College’s] ability to actually get any money seems…,” Mr Paris trailed off before finishing: “Unless she has significant assets — and she might, I don’t know — they might spend four grand to get nothing.”

Eltham College would not comment to Mamamia as the matter is still before the court.

Do you send your kids to a private or a public school? Why?

Related content:

Seven ways to help your kids do better at school.

The snarky school note dividing parents across the world?

Why public funding of private schools hurts us all.

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Tags: current-affairs , kids
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