School sued for return of contributions

Dec. 31, 2010 at 10:33 AM
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HOUSTON, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- A Texas surgeon says he is suing Houston's Strake Jesuit College Preparatory for the return of donations he made to the school, which refused to admit his son.

Michael Bardwil told ABCNews.com he was promised his son, Travis, would be accepted to the prestigious school if he made generous contributions.

He wants a refund of the $40,000 he donated to the school, which both Bardwil and his father attended.

"They told me they'd like me to give them a contribution and said that they like people to give 'until it hurts,' to give 'more than you are comfortable giving,'" said Bardwil.

Bardwil said he met with a school administrator at a fund raising event and was told to ensure his son got into the school he should start contributing money.

"I told him at that moment that if I make that type of large contribution I expected that my son will go to the school and the administrator said 'Yes, of course, absolutely,'" said Bardwil.

School officials declined to discuss the matter in detail, but said making donations and being accepted into the competitive school are not connected.

Bardwil pledged $50,000 and wrote his first check for $10,000 when his son was in the fifth grade. Tuition to the school is $14,450 annually.

"I got a call from the principal who told me that the school had decided 'not to take Travis,'" said Bardwil. "A week after I got a letter from the school that said they didn't take Travis because they didn't think he'd be happy there."

The school refused to refund Bardwil's contributions.

"While it is school policy not to comment on pending litigation, Strake Jesuit has always kept its admissions process separate from donations and contributions," said Rick Rivers, the school's director of communications.

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