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Knowledge 24/7
Knowledge 24/7, Attorney
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How can I break out of a private school contract in the state

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How can I break out of a private school contract in the state of Washington?

We signed the contract last February. Since then, the headmaster was fired for sexual harassment, and the star teacher of the school (our daughter's teacher) left and was replaced by someone with little understanding of kids and no experience running a classroom. We plan to move our daughter to another school next week.

We have paid approximately $3500 of the $14,500 tuition for this year. Although the contract provides no terms for rescinding, we feel the school has failed us, and we do not want to pay another cent.

Do we have any recourse?

Hello Customer,


A contract is a legal document binding two or more parties to its specific terms. One party agrees to do or give something to another party in exchange for a consideration, usually money. However, there are exceptions and extenuating circumstances that can allow for the cancellation of a contract with no financial. Having the headmaster fired and the top teach leave would definitely give rise to circumstances that have changed the agreement (i.e your daughter is not receiving the education you intially bargain for.


The most benign means to end a contract is to have all parties agree to its termination. For whatever individual reasons, if the parties consent, the contract can be broken. If you are attempting to get out of a contract, the first step is truly communication. Explain why you want to get out of the contract, and ask the school for permission to void it.


If that does not work Review the terms of the contract. If the party with which you enter into the contract fails to fulfill his obligation under the terms of the contract, you can deem the contract void and refuse to honor its existing terms. The circumstances surrounding the headmaster and the teacher leaving would certainly give rise to the fact that the school is not fulfilling its obligation.


Please hit accept so I may receive credit for my response. thanks

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thanks. One follow up question. Here is the relevant portion of the contract:

"I/we agree to be jointly and severally obligated to pay the tuition in accordance with the payment plan selected above and, even if the student fails to begin or complete the school year for any reason whatsover, including but not limited to voluntary withdrawal, dismissal, or denied enrollment because of account delinquency, to be liable for such a tuition in accordance with the contractual liability schedule below (less the non-refundable deposit). Withdrawals must be communicated in writing to the School by the undersigned and are effective as of the date received by the School."

According to the time schedule referenced in the contract, we are now liable for the entire remaining balance.

The contract makes no reference to the school's obligations. Does this mean that the dismissal of the headmaster, the loss of a star teacher, and the hiring of an incompetent teacher are, legally speaking, irrelevant? Or is there an implied obligation on the part of the school to provide satisfactory services?

We will certainly attempt to negotiate in good faith with the school, but it is helpful to understand our legal standing going into those negotiations.


The dismissal of the headmaster, the loss of a star teacher, and the hiring of an incompetent teacher are ground for you to void the contract based on the school not fulfilling its obligation. I would say that you have a strong case to void the contract based on the changing circumstances. Although no mention of the schools obligation, there is an implied obligation to provide satisfactory service and you had an expectation of the headmaster and the star teacher being part of that obligation which is now broken. Therefore on those grounds I do not see why you would not be able to void the contract.


Of course the school is going to argue that they did hire a satisfactory teach to replace the star teacher and that the headmaster acts were out of there control, so this could go either way if it was brought in front of a jury. I would contact the school and ask them to let you out of the rest of your obligation. If they do not you can play hard ball and threaten to go to other petition other parents.






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