Colegio De San Lorenzo, a private Catholic school in Quezon City founded in 1987, announced Monday it will permanently stop its operations after more than 30 years – sparking confusion and outrage from students, parents, faculty, and its workers alike.
In a letter to students and parents dated August 15, the school’s Board of Trustees said they were closing the school “due to financial instability and lack of financial viability brought about by the ongoing (COVID-19) pandemic and exacerbated by consistently low enrollment turnout over the past years.”
The move was voluntary without prior notification, both the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said on Tuesday. CDSL has elementary, high school, and college departments.
CHED chairman Prospero de Vera III told lawmakers on Tuesday the commission will loom into the “very abrupt” closure of Colegio de San Lorenzo, specifically if there were “possible violations” on the part of the school.
“I have instructed our executive director and CHED-NCR to sit down with the school immediately to look into possible violations. Because under existing CHED rules as of last year, you need to inform the Commission 60 days before you close or suspend programs,” he said.
“They accepted already tuition fees and then arbitrarily decided they will not open. So there is a certain element of maybe deceit, because as far as the commission is concerned, once you accept tuition fees, that is already a contractual agreement between you and the student that you will provide education in exchange for the fees that are paid,” De Vera added.
This was after students have already paid their tuition and other expenses, including payments for uniforms and books. The school’s present population or past enrollment figures could not be determined at press time, as CDSL apparently shut down its official website.
While CDSL assured the students and their parents would be refunded with checks to be issued starting tomorrow, San Lorenzo constituents vented their frustrations about the late notice, staging a general assembly at the school’s gym according to a Yahoo Philippines report.
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte on Tuesday announced the city government would help the CDSL community and ensure that the school takes responsibility for all the inconveniences suffered by its stakeholders.
Belmonte instructed City Legal Department chief Orlando Paolo Casimiro to immediately learn how the city government could help those affected.
Neighboring schools swarmed CDSL’s Facebook pages with posts to entice “Ruizians” to enroll with them, noting they were still accepting transferees ahead of the official opening of the school year 2022-23 on August 22.
This included the city-run Quezon City University, which said it is also accepting interested students in its three branches, especially graduating students.
But it did not help ease the school community’s concerns, with most of them gearing up for their first in-person classes at CDSL in nearly three years.
“The concerns of students and parents of Colegio de San Lorenzo are saddening. How about the graduating students? How about those who were supposed to graduate with honors, when they transfer to other schools it will be gone. How about the special care students who are not accepted in every school?” Janice Tan, one of the parents who attended yesterday’s assembly, said in Filipino on Facebook.
According to Tan, only the school’s legal team faced the students and parents. The school’s president, Mary Claire Therese Balgan, did not show up during the assembly.
“All faculty, all staff, all offices were hung out to dry. In short, iniwan sa ere (left hanging),” Jomarie Corro-Reyes, one of the school’s professors, said on his FB page per the Yahoo PH report.
“How about the students who were supposed to have their first day of classes today? The parents who were sure their children would finally graduate? The working students working hard to enroll and attain Latin honors?” he added.
However, Belmonte said: “We will extend all possible assistance to the students and parents, especially since the school year has started. We shall help in coordinating with other schools, colleges, and universities where affected students can transfer with their credentials credited.”
“We need to ensure that no student will encounter any delay in their studies, especially the graduating or senior ones and that their refund will be given quickly. The teaching and administrative personnel should also be taken care of,” she added.
“The QCU will welcome the college students of CDSL and we will help in crediting their classes and helping them have a smooth transition to our university,” added Quezon City University president Dr. Theresita Atienza.
Teachers and non-teaching personnel will be endorsed to the QC Public Employment Service Office for possible financial assistance or prospective employment, Belmonte added.
Casimiro yesterday met with the school representatives who committed full compliance to the needs of its students and teachers.
According to DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa, CDSL did not communicate their plans with them.
“They did not formally inform the department of their intent to close,” Poa said.
Poa assured that DepEd will only acknowledge the closure of CDSL “once we are assured that the transfer credentials of the affected students are processed and released by the school.”