Father speaks on lawsuit against Strake Jesuit

December 29, 2010 8:50:01 PM PST
For the first time, we're hearing from the father who is suing Strake Jesuit College Prepatory School. As we told you last week, his lawsuit claims the school mislead him into donating tens of thousands of dollars. The father is suing the school and asking for his money back, especially since he says his son will never benefit from his contributions.

Doctor Michael Bardwil graduated from Strake Jesuit in 1973. He says it helped mold him into the established vascular surgeon he is today.

"I felt that a Jesuit education was something special," said Dr. Bardwil.

So he wanted his son to have that same experience. Knowing admission can be competitive, he began meeting with adminstrators about five years ago, and recalls a specific discussion about a capital campaign where the schools motto was, "Give until it hurts." He claims he was asked for $100,000 on a piece of paper.

"I told him if I do contribute, I would like to know that my son is going to be attending this school. And he said, 'Well yes, of course," Dr. Barwil told us.

He says he ended up pledging half of that and to date has paid $40,000 to the school. But when admissions letters went out this past spring, the father says his son was turned down. The letter said, "he wouldn't be happy" there.

"Disappointed would be a severe understatement," Dr. Bardwil said.

He says the school told him they thought the contribution was out of appreciation for his own education. Now he's suing, claiming "common law fraud" and "negligent misrepresentation."

The Director of Communications for Strake Jesuit released this brief statement: "While it is school policy not to comment on pending litigation, Strake Jesuit has always kept its admissions process separate from donations and contributions."

Attorney Sarah Frazier is not representing Dr. Bardwil, but has looked over the petition.

"I have never heard of a case like this, it's very interesting," said Frazier.

She says while there may be a few legal hoops to jump through, this case could make it to a jury.

"Well, I think schools normally would say we can't make any promises, so if that's not what the school said in this case, it's surprising and not very wise," Frazier said.

Many of those capital improvements are now done on campus. And after the school would not refund the doctor's donation, he says he felt he had no other choice but to sue.

"Obviously I feel like I was misled and a certain sense of betrayal, but I think that it's also important to let other people know about this too," Dr. Bardwil said.

One of the things he is not asking for in the lawsuit is for his son to gain admission to Strake Jesuit. He says his son is now attending a public school where he is doing quite well.