A Victorian private school is applying to bankrupt a single mother who allegedly told the school she could not afford to pay its fees up front.
Eltham College first moved to bankrupt low-income earner Rachel Rodda in 2012 over $12,500 it said it was owed.
This includes a penalty fee of nearly $6000 for withdrawing her son without enough notice and $2000 worth of costs and interest, leaving about $5000 in actual unpaid fees, Fairfax Media understands.
"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," Ms Rodda said.
( I love the penalty fee, I wonder if our local 'elite' schools do this?)
Eltham College has pursued 17 families through the courts over unpaid fees. They did not want to comment on Ms Rodda's case because it is still before the courts.
Ms Rodda is not alone – scores of independent schools have tried to bankrupt families to claw back hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid fees.
Geelong Grammar, Wesley College, Camberwell Grammar, Melbourne Girls Grammar are among other independent schools that initiated bankruptcy proceeding against parents in recent years.
Wesley College alone has pursued 22 families since 2006 over unpaid fees.
Last year alone, the school launched bankruptcy proceedings against three families who owed around $103,000, according to court documents.
Wesley's chief financial officer Cameron Moroney said the college only initiated legal proceeding in "exceptional cases". He said these proceedings rarely resulted in a bankruptcy and Year 12 students were always able to complete their final year of school uninterrupted.