Closing Called A Breach

Suit Says Towson Catholic Had Promised An Education

July 16, 2009|By Nick Madigan | Nick Madigan,nick.madigan@baltsun.com

In the eyes of at least two families, the closure of Towson Catholic High School is a broken promise.

The mothers of 16-year-old students Elisa Marie Windsor and Hannah Messina have filed a lawsuit and a request for a temporary restraining order that, if granted, would prevent the school's closing for the coming academic year and the dismissal of any of its faculty and staff.

In the suit, filed Tuesday in Baltimore County Circuit Court, the girls' mothers - Lois Windsor, president of the school's parents association, and Judy Messina, the group's vice president - claim that closing the school would deprive the students of the education they had been promised. The plaintiffs' daughters were to have entered their senior year next month.

The closure is a particular blow to the Messinas because, the suit says, Hannah's father, Joseph Messina, suffers from pancreatic cancer, a situation that forced the family to apply to the school for financial aid. In that sense, the family alleges that the school broke its agreement to pay for her education. The Windsor family has already paid the full $9,500 tuition for the 2009-2010 academic year.

The suit says the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien, the pastor of the Immaculate Conception Parish, Monsignor F. Dennis Tinder, the school's principal, Clare Pitz, and the president of its board, Dennis M. Boyle - all of whom are named as defendants - "clandestinely plotted" to renege on their promises to educate the school's students.

None of the defendants, the suit says, warned parents, alumni, parishioners or the public before "unilaterally" deciding to close Towson Catholic High School.

Money should not be an issue because, the suit says, the Catholic Church "is one of the wealthiest institutions in the world."

Towson Catholic's closure, the suit says, has left its students only a month to find another school before the academic year begins.

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