I am a homeschool mom who is connected to a homeschool community. We meet on a weekly basis. The children are tutored by the moms and are paid. The moms are encouraged to help out and use their talents with organizing field trips, taking photos to create a year book , etc.
We have a situation where one mom, who was involved very much and due some circumstances after paying full tuition, decided to register her children in a school. In the contract it states that parents after paying tuition will not get a refund. She is very disappointed because she is treated the same as a parent who did not lift a finger. What is a biblical approach to this case?
Financial interactions and human interactions are intertwined. While money allows us to work together peacefully, it can also be the source of ill feeling and friction.
It’s always a good idea to step back from an issue, which is what we would recommend doing in this case. The reason businesses or organizations (like a homeschool co-op) have contracts and rules is so that everyone knows the bottom line and is assured of being treated equally. (Much of the American electorate is feeling distanced from its government because many people suspect that the law is applied differently to different people and groups.)
Imagine if you did refund this woman’s tuition despite regulations to the contrary? From then on, wouldn’t you have to refund everyone’s money or to delete that contract item? Otherwise, you are not playing by the rules which is a certain way to cause dissension. Since we assume the rule was put in for good reasons, you do need to follow it.
At the same time, this woman feels that she, unlike many other parents, devoted volunteer hours to the co-op. Being treated like everyone else is leaving her feeling unappreciated. We doubt if the tuition money is the issue as much as her emotions. Perhaps the co-op could give her a gift acknowledging her role along with a heartfelt letter expressing gratitude for all she has done? In this way, you would be acknowledging her efforts while not undermining your organization.
This episode might be an opportunity to review your co-op rules. Maybe every parent should be expected to put in a certain amount of volunteer time or maybe ‘more than usual’ volunteer hours should be reimbursed with credit towards tuition. You might also consider adding (with permission, of course) a pastor or community leader’s name on the contract as the person selected to settle any disputes. Especially in a small-knit group such as yours, this might make decisions less emotionally charged.
Wishing you a successful homeschool year,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin
If you found this question and answer thought-provoking and useful, take a look at 101 more questions and answers on topics of relationships, finance and faith in our popular book: