CORONAVIRUS: OY PAY! No Refunds For Childcare At Jewish Institutions

B’Nai israel

Lawsuits Suggested Against Synagogue, JCC In Boca Raton

B’Nai israel

[Ed. Note: A B’Nai Israel representative responded to BocaNewsNow.com more than 48 hours after our initial request for comment. The latest update is here].

[Ed. Note: We’ve updated “daycare” references for 2 and 3 year olds at B’Nai Israel to “early childhood education.” We regret the error.]

BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — We reported Friday that Congregation B’Nai Israel of Boca Raton is refusing to refund high priced child care (or to use their term, “early childhood education”) to parents of 2 and 3 year olds who are now being told to put their children in front of a computer to watch YouTube videos or a teacher reading by Zoom.

The cost of full time B’Nai Israel early childhood education: upwards of $16,000 a year.

While angry parents are flooding our inbox threatening suit against B’Nai Isreal, no one from B’Nai’s leadership has responded to our request for clarification of its policy.

It turns out B’Nai Israel isn’t the only South Palm Beach County Jewish organization under fire.

The Levis JCC Zale Early Childhood Learning Center of Boca Raton is also the subject of anger and angst from parents who say unfair charges continue to mount. But the JCC is offering two things Congregation B’Nai Israel is not: a credit, and a public explanation.

JCC Spokeswoman Jennifer Giacone responded to inquiries from BocaNewsNow.com within ten minutes.

“As part of a caring community, and with the hope that the Levis JCC remains a part of our Zale families’ lives for many years to come, our leadership worked diligently to offer a number of ways Zale families can utilize the credit. They took several factors into consideration in making the decision to give back to the families, among them the number of days left in the school year.”

Added Giacone:

Unfortunately, this pandemic has been a surprise to all of us. There is no one who is unaffected in some way by this. Of course, our preschool families may be experiencing financial hardships right now. As part of the Levis JCC, the Zale preschool is part of our strong and caring community. This makes it possible for us to support our families who qualify with financial assistance for both preschool and summer camp.”

Parents contacting BocaNewsNow.com say they object to both B’Nai Israel and the JCC requiring families to “beg” for assistance.

“I’m not looking for charity,” said a parent quoted in BocaNewsNow.com on Friday. “I’m looking to carry over the unused funds to next year, or to receive refund. It’s insulting to suggest we should apply for charitable donations because we don’t want to pay for services not being provided.”

Both the JCC and B’Nai Israel point to contracts stating that no refunds will be given for interruption. Attorneys contacting BocaNewsNow.com say those contracts are likely unenforceable, as an interruption would be considered a gas main break or hurricane prep which lasts a day or two, not a multi-month shut down resulting in online education for 2 year olds.

They also point to the ill-will Jewish organizations are creating in the communities they’re trying to serve.

While B’Nai Israel has had problems in the past — including our reporting of a convicted felon using an assumed name to secure employment in the school several years ago — the JCC seems to be taking a step to ensure financial stability of daycare programs while offering families other services in the future.

“Our policy was developed to best serve the entire Zale community because we value our relationship with them,” wrote Giacone. “While the Zale Registration agreement clearly states that “there will be no make-up days, refunds or credits in the event of absences, weather emergencies or other school closing,” our leadership feels strongly that it is important to support the needs of our community.”

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