Lawsuit filed over planned closure of La Reina Catholic School in Ventura County

Ashley Mackey Image
Thursday, February 29, 2024
Lawsuit filed over closure of La Reina School in Ventura County
Parents, students and donors have filed a lawsuit against the Sisters of Notre Dame.

Parents, students and donors have filed a lawsuit against the Sisters of Notre Dame. They are the owners of the La Reina Catholic School in Ventura County, a school that recently announced it would be closing after this school year.

Shock, betrayal, and disappointment are just a few of the emotions freshman Sita Cortez says she felt when she got the news.

"Everyone was crying," said Cortez. "And you could see the teachers were trying to keep it together because that's what La Reina's about. The teachers have always supported the women."

At the end of January, La Reina sent out a statement to its community informing them of the decision to close the school. Parents, students and alum protested after the announcement that cited low enrollment as a reason for the closure, saying enrollment was down 53 percent compared to eight years prior.

A statement from La Reina said in part "We have made the difficult decision that the time has come for La Reina to cease operations at the end of this school year. For several years, our school leadership and community have worked to address challenging financial headwinds largely caused by significant under-enrollment."

"The fact that they were taking people's money for next school year three days before they announce the closure of the school, is suspicious," said Shari Brown, a parent of a senior at La Reina.

The lawsuit claims fraud, unfair and deceptive business practices and a breach of contract among other things. The lawsuit says in part "This exceptionally unforeseen announcement leaves hundreds of students without the anticipated education for which they, and or their parents, and or other benefactors paid substantial sums of money and to which they had devoted substantial time and effort in an attempt to better themselves and continue their educational journeys."

"We would have done anything to save this school, but we weren't given enough time," Brown said. "And now it's just heartbreaking to see all these other students who don't have time to get into another school because they're hitting the deadlines."

Claudia Cortez tells me many of the private school deadlines have closed. She says her daughter Sita Cortez has been attending La Reina through its financial aid program since sixth grade, and that's not typically something private schools offer.

"I don't want people to think, 'Oh well all these families have all this money, so they can send their kids anywhere essentially,'" Claudia Cortez said. "That's not the case at all. La Reina has always been very supportive on financial aid resources."

ABC7 reached out to those named in the lawsuit but were declined interviews as of now. We also reached out for a statement from La Reina, but have not gotten a response yet.