Controversy over sale of Catholic high school in California


The pending closure of a Catholic high school in Los Angeles has driven parents to fundraising activity and has raised allegations that the school is only being sold to cover lawsuit settlements in child abuse cases, the California Catholic reports.

Last Saturday about 200 parents, students, and alumni of the 53-year-old Daniel Murphy High School marched from Pershing Square to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.  They carried signs reading “Don’t Make the Children Pay” and “No More Victims.”

In October the Archdiocese of Los Angeles announced it would close the school, citing "severe financial challenges" and a decline in the student population.

Though the archdiocese said “efforts to increase student enrollment over the past ten years” had failed, a parent's letter to Pope Benedict XVI, received by the California Catholic Daily, claimed that the archdiocese has in the past capped freshman enrollment.  The letter claimed that “there has been no official Archdiocese involvement with enrollment at Daniel Murphy,” and said parents did not know about the school's financial trouble or its subsidies from the archdiocese until the announcement that the school would close.

Parents have committed to higher tuition and more fundraising if the school stays open.  They have agreed to pay an additional $1,000 to the school's $5,100 annual tuition, which will bring in an extra $240,000 per year in funding.  They have also agreed to two mandatory raffles they hope would bring in $80,000 a year.  The money would replace the archdiocesan subsidy to the school of $180,000 per year.

The parents claim archdiocesan officials rebuffed their fundraising plans at a meeting last month, and that the archdiocese has forbidden school supporters from meeting on school grounds and forbidden faculty and staff to assist them.

They say the archdiocese is set on selling the school's 2.7-acre site, which they claim could bring in $25 to $40 million.

Proceeds of the sale could help pay off the archdiocese's $373 million portion of a $660 million settlement with victims of molestation by priests.

The archdiocese has said it will not change its decision to close the school, but in a statement it said that they “will continue to work with parents and students to help make the transition to new schools as easy and as affordable as possible."