(WSVN) - When he sent his son to a private school, he got tuition insurance to pay in case they moved. They moved. But the insurance wouldn’t pay for everything, and the school refused to release the child’s transcripts. It’s tonight’s edition of Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Anthony Anaya is a good kid, and a good student.

George Anaya, Jr., father: “A great human being, a lover of animals, a good family member, active hockey player.”

But the public school he went to in Broward was not so great.

George Anaya Jr.: “Students brought a gun and knives to school with a suicide plot, and that was the last day that we let him stay there.”

George then enrolled Anthony in St. Mark’s. A private Episcopal school. Of course, tuition is not cheap. About $17,000, but it was worth it to George.

George Anaya Jr.: “Right? That’s priceless. To be able to sleep well at night knowing that your kid is safe.”

To protect himself, George also paid for insurance that all private schools offer.

George Anaya Jr.: “In case that, for whatever reasons — including moving, you do not finish the academic year — your tuition would be covered by the tuition insurance.”

Anthony enjoyed the private school, but last March the family had to move. That’s when George was glad he paid for the insurance to cover the rest of that year’s tuition.

Howard Finkelstein: “The tuition portion, that insurance should be covered by the insurance company.”

But the school said the insurance only paid about half the tuition: $2,607. George was told he had to pay the other $2,600, plus $200 for lost books. Since George thought the insurance covered it, he didn’t pay.

George Anaya Jr.: “I didn’t hear anything until the school registrar at his new school went to try and get his grades to place him in his ninth grade courses for the following school year, and St. Mark’s refused to release the transcripts.”

The public school let Anthony finish eighth grade without this records.

But to get into high school next month, he needs the transcripts, and the private school wouldn’t release them till George paid the remaining tuition.

George Anaya Jr.: “I can expect it from an insurance company. That certainly doesn’t surprise me. But from a school, that’s really where I have a bone to pick.”

Without the transcripts, no ninth grade for Anthony. And growing frustration for George.

George Anaya Jr.: “I want to see them release his transcripts and let my son be able to go on and flourish in his academic career.”

Well, Howard, if the tuition isn’t paid, can one school block a student from enrolling in another school by refusing to release the teen’s transcripts?

Howard Finkelstein: “Yes, a private school can withhold the transcripts, because it’s in the school contract you sign when you enroll your child. And we checked the insurance contract. They pay in full if you have to leave for medical reasons, but only 60 percent for other reasons. So George has to pay that to get his son’s transcripts.

We then contacted St. Mark’s. They worked with us and said, instead of George having to pay the $2,800 at once, they would give him the transcripts if he agrees to a payment plan.

George surprised us and said no.

But Anthony is now enrolled in a Broward public high school. The district spokesperson said, “No student will be denied access to our schools because of official documentation.”

We were curious and asked how they knew what grade to put him in. The answer: The “school can administer assessments, use current classroom data and other information to determine final placement.”

George Anaya Jr.: “And he’s looking forward to starting high school here next year at Stoneman Douglas.”

Anthony was accepted into his grade, the ninth grade. And George was reminded, read what you sign. Carefully.

George Anaya Jr.: “I guess you got to read the fine print. I don’t know.”

In the school’s defense, that money they expected to get from George was budgeted to pay a teacher, and the school had to find the money to pay the teacher.

Now, can they sue George for that money? Sure. Will they? That’s a decision they have to make.

Getting schooled trying to solve your problem? Want to insure you get help? Transfer the problem to us. Hopefully we will make the grade for you.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN
On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

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