Parents Sue Boston Archdiocese over School Closing

By Helena Payne
Associated Press, carried in [Boston MA]
June 1, 2004

BOSTON (AP) Two mothers whose children attend the St. Peter School sued the Boston Archdiocese Tuesday, seeking to reclaim more than $200,000 they and other parents raised for the South Boston school, which will close as part of the massive reorganization announced by church officials.

Their lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, is believed to be the first to stem from the archdiocese's announcement last week that it would close 65 parishes and two parochial schools.

It claims members of the St. Peter Home and School Association have raised more than $200,000 for the school. They are seeking a preliminary injunction freezing any assets that can be traced to the association's fund-raising, said Glen Hannington, the lawyer representing parents Natalie Butler and Maryann Crush.

"They just felt that they have been blindsided by all this and they felt the money should go back to the children," said Hannington, adding that the parents want to use the money to open "a private school with a Catholic identity."

He said the unexpected closing of St. Peter's has sent the parents scrambling to find new schools for their children.

Butler and Crush allege in their lawsuit that the association solicited funds based on "the unambiguous representation that the donations were to benefit the school, and only the school."

In light of the archdiocese's sexual abuse scandal, the lawsuit also says the association wanted to assure donors that the money would not be diverted from the school to fund the archdiocese's settlement with victims of abusive priests.

The Rev. Christopher Coyne, the archdiocese's spokesman, said Tuesday that he was unaware of the parents' lawsuit but the plan to close the school would not change.

St. Peter's was chosen to close, along with the affiliated Lithuanian church of the same name, one of two parishes that will be shuttered in heavily Catholic South Boston.

The school at Our Lady of the Presentation Parish, in the city's Brighton neighborhood, was also slated for closure; two school's in the Dorchester neighborhood St. William and St. Margaret are expected to merge as part of the consolidation.


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