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Letter to the Editor: Roseville School Closure and 250K Loss

What will happen to St. John's Christian School in Roseville?

Our son currently attends .  The school is affiliated with St. John’s Episcopal Church on Pleasant Grove Blvd.  The school has had a lease with the Roseville City School District for the for the past several years.  Earlier this year they announced we would be moving to a new location in Rocklin because the Roseville City School District was going to open the school in Fall 2012.  

As parents we were shown diagrams of new locations in Roseville and Rocklin and were told that the school was entering into a lease.  Over Thanksgiving break the Headmaster Father Paul resigned.  A town hall meeting was held to let the parents know that there was a gross mismanagement of school funds. 50% of the school staff and teachers were immediately laid off and classes combined.  We were told there were no illegal transactions by Father Paul however apparently there was no oversight by the Episcopalian Diocese or the school board.  Turns out that in fact that despite the church appointing Father Paul to run the school on their behalf it was run as a separate corporation and as such the church has no legal liability for the debts or obligations.  Other obligations include the debt to the Roseville City School District in excess of 250K, Utilities, Suppliers, parents who prepaid tuition and the teachers.

For several months now we were told that the school board was in negotiation with the Diocese and seeking their support to continue the school.  The school has over 155 full time students grades PreK-8.   A month ago the board managed to secure funding for the school through Descors with the help of Cornish and Carey.  The school owns the property immediately behind the church.  The only stumbling block to the plan was that the Diocese, who currently has the first lien on the property, would need to subordinate their lien to Descors.   Parents were asked to commit in writing that we would continue to send our children to the school in the Fall.  In addition to that we were asked to pledge a donation to assist in the building of the school.  Within 3 days 160 children were committed to attend and over 30K in pledges were received.  The Board then went to meet again with the Diocese.

Tonight we were called to a final Town Hall Meeting where we were advised that the Episcopalian Diocese refused to assist the school any further.  Their position is that they have already spent money on the school and they refuse to provide another dime or subordinate their lien.  All this despite the fact they were responsible for choosing the CEO/Headmaster of this school.   A member of the school board even offered to provide 40 acres of his own personal property as security because he was so confident in the business plan put forth by the board.  The discussion then went further and it was disclosed that the school would be declaring bankruptcy.   They asked that we consider giving our pledges to the board so that the teachers could be paid.  

Our question was why weren’t the teachers being paid?   Father Cliff, the Deacon of the Episcopal Church, provided very little answers. He advised that he was under an obligation to not say too much as a representative of the Diocese because there was a risk of pending lawsuits and liability.  

So the reality of the situation is the Diocese has managed to walk away from any obligation by listing the school as a separate corporation independent of the church.  As the school declares bankruptcy it will leave the Roseville City School District out at least $250K plus legal fees, Suppliers unpaid, Teachers unpaid and families scrambling to put their children in schools at the last minute.  We do not even know how many teachers will show up to work knowing that they most likely will not be paid after May.  

And all this has been kept quiet because everyone hoped the church would do the right thing.  They didn’t and while it’s easy to hide behind the legal aspect of a corporation the reality is this is a church who should own up to their lack of oversight and ownership in this huge problem and if nothing else do the right thing----pay the teachers first and the creditors who are in this position due to their lack of oversight.

Loriann and Mark Chaussee

— Editor's Note: St. John's School did not have a lease through the City of Roseville. The lease was with the Roseville City School District.

TheRealBigCouchPotato April 25, 2012 at 05:09 PM
I'm sorry to say this and I mean no offense but it seems to me like there were crooks in charge. How much did they make when they sold the old church and school to the Sikhs? I think there are people who misuse funds all over and churches/church schools are no exception. Look at the Crystal Cathedreal...same thing. No oversight. I hope that if the school does find a way to continue, they have some oversight.

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