Our nightmare with Wellspring has started on Tuesday the 16th of January at 2:45pm, when the Wellspring Community scheduled an appointment at 2: 45 PM to meet our daughter Tulsi. We had already met with Wellspring to discuss why we wanted to enroll our child in their school. We explained that it was their alternative education and teachings that attracted us, and specified that our daughter had attended Lemonts, a Montessory nursery, for three years, and was trying to master four languages at a time, which caused her a small delay in speech but nothing that required, according to Lemonts, a worrisome thought of any kind.
Lemonts preschool gives parents very detailed report of what a child learns in their program. They were very happy with Tulsi and she also showed a lot of enthusiasm. During this interview, Wellspring didn’t mention the procedure of the interview, didn’t mention the requirements to get enrolled in the school and yet asked us to pay the sum of 160 $ just for the interview. As optimistic parents we imagined the interview to be an opportunity to meet our daughter. We had no idea that our daughter would be taken away for a 30 minutes to be “tested”. We had no idea that a school can seriously think that you can asses a 3 year old child’s in 30 minutes away from his parents.
On Tuesday the 16th of January at 2:45pm, we arrive at the school, and our daughter falls asleep due to an already exhausting day. As we arrive, a child is yelling in the reception, and another one is crying. We are holding our daughter asleep. The woman in charge of our file asks us to wake her up. Tulsi is upset but begins to wake herself up. We then go to the playground. Five minutes later, two women ask to take Tulsi to a separate room. Tulsi has never visited this school and is only three years old. Yet she is used to strangers and very sociable and so she kindly accepts and follows them. Nabil and I are terrified and don’t understand this procedure. But as parents wanting the best for our child, and trusting Tulsi, we slowly watch her being taken away to a separate room.
30 minutes later, a woman, looking sternly at us, asks us two questions without introducing herself. We have, after all, no clue who she is!
- How did you learn about Wellspring?
- What can you say about your daughter?
Nabil and I stare at each other very surprised by their lack of interest as well as their superficial questions. We answer and leave.
After a few weeks, we are notified that our daughter might not be accepted, but that another appointment has been scheduled for her. I refuse to go as I cannot believe this is happening, but my father, a rector of a high school in France, encourages me to take the second interview before deciding of anything.
During this time, we are told by other parents that their kids also got rejected and we start to learn more and more about this obscure alternative school.
It appears, to be not alternative at all…
Nabil goes with Tulsi to the second interview.
Tulsi is taken to the garden, plays a bit and then the interview is over. How a decision by Wellspring was taken at this moment that Tulsi is special needs and unable to follow the class will forever remain a mystery…
We are told two weeks later that she is not accepted. I ask them to send me an email specifying why she was refused. I’m told to call them in the morning. I send an email specifying that I will not call them, that I paid 160 $ and that I ask them to specify the reasons why they didn’t accept Tulsi.
I receive two weeks later a mail saying they didn’t forget about us and will answer us but only, once again, if we call them. I repeat that I want a written answer.
It will take them more than two weeks to answer this :
Tulsi was not cooperative in the first interview. This could be due to the timing of the interview, which was in the afternoon, and, as mentioned above, she was in Lemonts all day and was tired. That is why we decided to have another interview with Wellspring. During the 2nd interview, the school observes and assesses: the development of the child’s motor skills, language skills (verbal and vocabulary) and speech, cognitive and thinking skills; if the child can follow instructions and directions; if the child works independently and is responsive.
According to the interviewee’s notes, Tulsi was not interactive during the second interview. Her speech was neither clear, nor was it understood. Tulsi was not able to follow 2-step instructions, and was repeating everything the teacher was saying instead of answering the basic questions.
After our experience with Wellspring, we went to the Lemonts administration to ask them if Tulsi fit the profile described, in response to which we were told a categorical “no”.
I decide to write a post on Facebook to denounce what Wellspring did and to show that they are not the alternative school they pretend to be. I emphasized the fact that we paid 160 $ for an interview that we didn’t know anything about and that this is not acceptable on legal grounds.
If the requirements to enroll a year old child were specific, then as parents paying for the interview, we have a right to know the procedure in detail.
On Tuesday 26 of June, the committee on Cyber Crimes in Lebanon contacts me to notify me that the school complained about our post. I have to go to a convocation on Tuesday at 10 AM to answer why I wrote what I wrote. I might even be asked, according to my lawyers, to never say a word again about my experience.
Wellspring never apologized for it. They did worse: they opposed our freedom of speech and are trying to silence us.
NB : Tulsi has been accepted very smoothly since then to the Grand Lycée Franco-Libanais.