San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Why Were My Children Denied Admission?

Attached is a letter I wrote to the director of the private BlueValleySchool,Maria Cristina Gutiérrez de Urbina in late November 2006:

“I feel compelled to write you regarding your admission practices. On May 29, 2006, my wife and I met with admissions director Ana Cecilia Dilla to discuss enrolling our children in February 2007. She said she could not put us on a waiting list until we filled out applications; I completed and returned the applications the following week. Ms. Dilla explained there was room for our then three-and-a-half year old and that she would get back to me within a few days.

“I received a call saying I would need to attend a parent’s open house on June 23, which I did. I was told that my youngest had to attend a half-day session on July 28, and my five-year-old would have to be tested, so I made arrangements to have them excused from school and flown here.Cody, my youngest, attended the session, at which time I informed Ms. Dilla that my older child was here and available for testing. She said she would get back to me.

“I never heard from her again. I e-mailed and left countless messages. It’s now approaching December and not one phone call. I know how a first-rate school operates. Frankly, with your excellent education and background, I surely expected an outstanding school. After considerable expense and time invested I was not even given the common courtesy of a call back.”

I am a resident here and I am in a wheelchair on a portable ventilator. I very much believe my condition influenced the school’s behavior. BlueValley was not the

only school that treated me this way, but by far the most outrageous.

Matthew Rice

San Antonio de Escazú

Blue Valley Director María Cristina Gutiérrez told The Tico Times that following the half-day session in July to which Rice refers, during which teachers use a complex checklist to observe students’ behavior and attempt to determine which applicants will thrive, Rice’s younger child was put on a waiting list because the school had only 22 spaces to offer its 44 applicants in that age group this year. According to the school’s records, Rice was told by phone Aug. 11, 2006 that the child was on the waiting list and that he would be contacted if a space opened up, Gutiérrez said. However, that did not occur, so the school did not contact him again.

Regarding the older child, Gutiérrez said her understanding is that Rice never began the admissions process for his five-year-old.

She added that she did receive Rice’s letter in December and wrote him a reply via e-mail, but that the response was lost when her system crashed.

She strongly denied any discrimination, and added that the school has had disabled parents in the past and is wheelchair-accessible. Gutiérrez also said that if Rice would like a more detailed explanation of the reasons why his younger child was placed on the waiting list, and teachers’ observations, she is available to speak with him by phone or in person at the school.

“There’s an open door for every parent. He can come and speak to me,” she said. “What he can be sure of is that there was no type of discrimination.”


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