High School Student Sues Her Parents For Private School Tuition
If you’re a teenager mad at your parents, here’s one way to get back at them.
Rachel Canning, a New Jersey high school honor student, cheerleader, and athlete, is suing her parents for private school tuition, college tuition, and living expenses after she says they kicked her out of the house when she turned 18 on November 1.
Not so, says Rachel’s father, Sean Canning. He says Rachel left voluntarily after refusing to abide by the rules of the house. Rachel was an “incredibly rebellious teen” who would not follow rules that included being respectful, keeping a curfew, doing chores, and potentially ending a relationship with a boyfriend who the parents felt was a bad influence.
According to the Daily Record, Rachel has had disciplinary problems, which included twice being suspended from school and she has gotten into trouble for bullying her sister.
“We’re heartbroken, but what do you do when a child says, ‘I don’t want your rules but I want everything under the sun and you to pay for it?’” Sean says. He added that Rachel’s college fund is available and has not been withdrawn or reallocated as she has alleged in the lawsuit.
Rachel has been living with the family of her best friend, the Inglesinos. The friend’s father, John, who is an attorney, is funding the lawsuit and hired Canning’s lawyer. In a hearing scheduled for today, Rachel’s lawyer will ask a judge for the Cannings to pay an outstanding $5,306 Morris Catholic High School tuition bill, plus their daughter’s current living and transportation fees, and commit an existing college fund to her. The lawsuit also includes a request that Rachel’s parents pay their daughter’s legal fees, which so far total $12,597.
Sean fears that his daughter is being enabled by well-intentioned but misinformed people like the Inglesinos. The Inglesinos got involved because “Rachel is likeable, communicates exceptionally well and is highly motivated to attend and excel at a college appropriate for her. That is why my wife and I have decided to fund this lawsuit. We know that if Mr. and Mrs. Canning are not required to fulfill their legal obligations as parents, that Rachel’s ability to fulfill her potential will be greatly diminished,” Inglesino wrote the court.
This suit might stand a chance because of a New Jersey court decision that found young adults can be dependent on their parents beyond their 18th birthday, long considered the age at which a person is legally an independent adult. “A child’s admittance and attendance at college will overcome the rebuttable presumption that a child may be emancipated at age 18,” according to the Daily Record.
I don’t know about you, but I’m with Rachel on this one. How dare her parents expect her to be respectful and responsible! How dare they discontinue paying for her high school tuition! They’re the ones who put her there. The least they can do is finish paying for it. It’s her senior year. What do they expect her to do—enroll in public high school? And that money the Cannings set aside for college? It’s Rachel’s. I can’t believe her parents would refuse to send her to college over a little thing like rules. I just don’t get it. How come it’s not okay for Rachel to have everything she wants with not one string attached?
Seriously, though, this situation makes me sad for so many different reasons. Rachel sounds incredibly spoiled and entitled, but my guess is that this comes from years of being spoiled and getting much of what she wanted. But, even if you give her parents the benefit of the doubt and assume Rachel’s behavior was a new development, that doesn’t change the fact that she is where she is because of her choices. Whether Rachel was kicked out of the house or she left voluntarily at 18 is almost beside the point. Either way, she decided that she didn’t want to follow the rules. That’s within her control.
What’s awful in all this is that Rachel will likely continue to be a person who lacks respect for others and doesn’t take responsibility for her actions.
What do you think? Should Rachel Canning’s parents be responsible for her high school and college tuition and living expenses? Share your thoughts below.
Alexis Trass Walker lives in Gary, Indiana, with her husband and four children. She is managing editor of Good Enough Mother. Read more about Alexis on her blog www.lilliebelle.org or follow her on Twitter @LillieBelle5. You can email her at alexis [at] goodenoughmother [dot] com.