Strake Jesuit Sued: Man Says He Donated $40K And His Son Still Wasn't Admitted

A Strake Jesuit alumnus gave $40,000 to the school in the belief it would get his son admitted, but the school took the cash and not the kid, according to a lawsuit filed in district court.

Michael Bardwil is suing the school for fraud, and exposing the heavy hand elite private schools can put on donors.

A Strake spokesman, Rick Rivers, tells Hair Balls the school is aware of the suit but will not comment on pending litigation.

Bardwil claims school supporters and officials started putting the squeeze on him in 2006, inviting him to fundraisers at restaurants.

One, development director N.J. Santarcangelo, told him the school's motto was to "give til it hurts" and, when Bardwil asked how big a donation he was being asked to give, "Santarcangelo wrote down '$100,000' on a piece of paper."

He eventually agreed to give half that in five annual installments after another fundraiser told him that "Jesuit was now more difficult to get into and this if he intended for his son to go to Jesuit, that as an insider that she was strongly advising that plaintiff needed to make a significant contribution in order to ensure a place at Jesuit for" his son.

Forty-thousand dollars later, he says, his son didn't score well enough on admissions exams and was rejected. ("As acceptance had already been assured," the suit says, "Plaintiff's son's effort had concentrating [sic] on school work as opposed to exam preparation. [The son] was on the honor roll at his school.")

The school told Bardwil his son was rejected "because 'he wouldn't be happy' there."

The suit says -- adding italics -- that the school's president, Fr. Daniel Lahart, "then said, for the first time since the contributions were solicited, that the admission committee made admissions decisions 'without knowledge of' contributions.'"

Not all was lost, though: Lahart, the suit says, told Bardwil he understood if he decided not to give the last $10,000 of the pledged donation.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly