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Brooklyn’s Science, Language, and Art School didn’t start classes this fall. Now parents are suing

December 30, 2021

A private French immersion school in Brooklyn, New York that added a Mandarin track in the 2019-2020 school year failed to open this fall and parents are suing, saying the school owed $6.1 million back rent and demanded tuition deposits while never telling them how dire the financial situation was.

The Science, Language & Arts International School abruptly shut down operations 13 days before school was to start, but kept tuition deposits of up to half the $30,720 families had paid for the year, a class-action suit filed by more than 25 families alleges.

“On August 27, 2021—or 13 days before the scheduled start of the 2021-2022 academic year—Plaintiffs and the putative class received an email sent on behalf of the SLA Board advising them that SLA would not open at all for the 2021- 2022 academic year and that their children would be required to attend school elsewhere,” the suit says.

According to the lawsuit, the school didn’t tell parents that it had not fully paid the monthly rent and real estate taxes due under the lease for its main campus location at 9 Hanover Place in Brooklyn as far back as October 2018.

It also didn’t tell families that on January 29, 2021 the school received written notice from its landlord that its lease on its campus had been terminated effective February 12, 2021 for nonpayment of rent, taxes, fees, or utilities, the suit alleges.

When the landlord began eviction proceedings against the school, it owed unpaid rent of $6.1 million, the lawsuit alleges.

According to the lawsuit, this was happening even as the school told parents they had to pay at least half their tuition to hold a place in the 2021-2022 class.

Some email notes from Jennifer Wilkins, the school’s director, are quoted in the lawsuit:

May 28, 2021

Summary of SLA Community Meeting: “SLA will be in session next year. Your children will have classes, and teachers, and the standard of education that we have always maintained.”

June 2, 2021

Community Q&A: Will SLA be open next year? Will this impact SLA’s ability to go up to 8th grade? Yes, operations will proceed as normal. We still intend to grow to 8th grade.

July 16, 2021

Wilkin, sent an email to the Class categorically stating that “a rumor that SLA might not reopen,” was “not true.”

The school’s website, http://www.sla.org, is no longer in operation. Wilkin’s LinkedIn page still lists her as the director of the school:

“A published author and leader-innovator in education, Jennifer Wilkin is the founding director of Science, Language & Arts International School (SLA), is the owner-director of Bonjour/Hola/Ni Hao NY camps, and consults on matters related to curriculum and language acquisition. Her books have been published by National Geographic Learning, Macmillan, and Cambridge University Press.

Science, Language & Arts International School (SLA) is a Nursery through Grade 8 private school focused on hands-on science, arts, and math, providing children with a rich and rigorous multilingual education in French and Mandarin. SLA is an inclusive, anti-bias school.”

I have reached out to Wilkins via Linked In. I will also remove it from the list of Mandarin immersion schools, which will be updated in the coming week.

The current page at the school’s former website, slaschool.org
2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mary Sheridan permalink
    January 20, 2022 10:45 am

    Can you please tell me where I would find out more on this lawsuit? I am also owed money by SLA. Thank you!

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