Flower Mound Montessori School Says Rival Montessori School Stole Its Teachers, Students

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Wikipedia
Maria Montessori would not approve.
The world of early childhood education is cutthroat. There are only so many hyper-concerned parents willing to shell out public college tuition for their 3-year-olds to get the type of preschool education that will propel them into the Ivy League. Used to be, you could slap the name "Montessori" on the door and let the kids run wild and well-to-do parents would be shoveling you cash. But the market's adjusted, and there are more schools angling for the same group of kids.

In Flower Mound at least, that's sparked a turf war. Yesterday in Dallas County, Wonderland Montessori Academy in Flower Mound filed suit against Rockbrook Montessori Academy, located a mile-and-a-half away, for using "underhanded methods" to poach teachers and students to the rival school. Like:

On at least one occasion, a Rockbrook employee called Wonderland posing as a doctor's office in order to speak with a Wonderland teacher. On another occasion, Rockbrook's owner, Vineeta Bhargava, visited the home of a Wonderland teacher uninvited in order to try to convince the teacher to join Rockbrook.

The dispute seems to have come to a head in May when Wonderland teacher Radhika Soni notified the school that she was leaving. Wonderland director Heather Cole asked point blank if she was leaving for Rockbrook, but Soni insisted she was leaving for Castle Creek, a Flower Mound preschool.

Two days before her last day at Wonderland, the school's owner, Sanjay Johsi, learned that Soni was secretly approaching parents and offering them "financial incentives" to join her at Rockbrook and encouraging them to stop paying Wonderland tuition. This was all tacitly endorsed by Rockbrook which, according to the lawsuit, had offered Soni an additional $2 per hour on her $14-per-hour base pay if she could recruit more students.

When I called yesterday, Rockbrook owner Vineeta Bhargava declined to comment on the suit. Five minutes later, she called me back. Rockbrook coexists peacefully with a host of private schools much nearer than Wonderland, she told me, and does not try to steal their students. If parents decide Rockbrook's offers a superior education, that's their decision. "This is America," she told me. "You are free to take your child" to whatever school you choose. "This is not a third-world country where you have Mafia and bribes. This is America."

I sent her a copy of the lawsuit, which she had not yet seen, and she promised to have her husband call me with any additional response. As we were about to hang up, I mentioned in passing that I have a 3-year-old. She asked if I lived in Flower Mound and if I had ever considered Montessori.

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11 comments
YourKarma
YourKarma

Okay, so Sanjay, the little guy, and the sore loser in this game, will not be winning this case. He has no case. But this is America after all, and so you can sue anyone you want simply because someone hurt your feelings and pissed you off and you are jealous. Sanjay, your school building is beautiful but your staff is weak. You lost the best teachers you had, now learn from it and move on. You have a golden opportunity here to make your school better, so do it!! Run it like a real Montessori and not a day care with teenage babysitters. You should focus your energy on education, not lawsuits.

LeavingWonerland
LeavingWonerland

This is all BULLSHIT!!! Obviously, no one put a gun to any parents head and made them move their kids! If parents chooses to move their kids from one school to another, that is their prerogative. In order to discuss other schools, your current school must not be meeting expectation. Doesn't take a German physics major to figure that out! I know for a fact that Wonderland is now playing catch up! They may now have one certified Montessorri teacher while the others are being trained. So I ask you, if you pay Wonderland money for Montessorri work, shouldn't you get it? If I have someone who isn't trained, then shouldn't I get a discount for dropping my kid off at daycare? Cause that is what it is! Also, have you seen the ages of most Wonderland teachers, they barely look over 23. If I wanted baby sitters, I'll hire one! Not to mention, the obvious "good old girls network" ..... Case and point, the Wonderiland Director promoting her friend the assistant director when she wasn't even a good teacher and hiring her sister to basically take care of her own child. Can you say conflict of interest??? Bottom line, In this industry where a consumer can choose where to take their business .... The difference maker is the quality of the service! Lets face it, we can take our kids to Primrose, the Courtyard, my Grandmother's house or hire a Nanny .... In the end if several parents choose to leave a school, then that school should stop playing the blame game and take a good look at themselves!

mixandmatch
mixandmatch

You are running a school and not a real estate business.i hope you know the difference.what would you know what montessori education is. 

mixandmatch
mixandmatch

 Mr Joshi, let me tell you   where lies the problem, you have no clue how to run a school. Ms Soni was one of your best teachers.I have seen her closely how she works with children.

If she is really that bad you should be glad that she has left. But you know what Your problem is.teachers who work there are not your slaves they can choose to go where they want. After reading this article You have proven what you are and who you are.You and The Director Heather cole had absolutely no concern letting any of us(parents) know that your teachers were leaving.Not just Ms Soni, but Ms Charu, Ms Ranata.Ms chelsey who was wonderful and a great assistant director

Let me tell you, you might say that wonderland is a montessori, but in true sence you are running a day care.Very soon you will see a lot of parents leave not because of a teacher but because of your bad management. Good luck I am glad we could see your true side.

Kelsey T.
Kelsey T.

Here's the funniest part about this whole situation....the owners at Wonderland themselves tried to be beg, borrrow or straight up steal (from the successful neighboring school) every teacher and student they could get their greedy little hands on  a year earlier---then all of the sudden when Veneeta and Pooja (Rockbrook owners) open up their school and and try to do the same to lure over a few people...boo hoo hoo! What goes around comes around right Mr. Joshi? 

Anon
Anon

She had already quit. If I had to guess, she told parents that she quit, and they asked where she was going. Maybe she's that good. Who knows. All I know is that if you want loyalty from employees, you shouldn't treat them and pay them like somebody who works at the check out line at Target, and that's what lots and lots of lower tier private schools in the area do.

Ethics
Ethics

Yes, Texas is a work at will state, but the issue that seems to be here is not the matter of employee switching jobs, it is a matter of ethics, meaning that she is getting the paycheck from Wonderland, but promoting Rockbrook. In my opinion it seems illegal. But has our society really changed in such a way that a paycheck means more than loyalty? She should have waited till she switched to Rockbrook. Also, what will we expect this teacher to convey to the kids? Money over honesty?

Anon
Anon

That's probably enough to get her fired, and not much more. It's not illegal as an employee at McDonald's to tell people who get to the counter that they should go next door to Chick Fil A. She had already told them she was leaving for another job. If they were worried about her presence at the school at that point, they should have asked her to leave immediately. She is under absolutely no obligation to be truthful with them about where she is going. 

Tim Covington
Tim Covington

Unless the schools had an agreement not to do this, then they need to drop the school from the suit. However, I believe that the teacher is in deep doo-doo. She was actively sabotaging her current employer for her future employer.

Rumpunch
Rumpunch

I think that their only real beef should be with the Teacher.  The promise of a future bonus would not make the other party a participant in this civil matter.  That's the way capitalizism go. Companies steal employees and clients all of the time.  Its really just a violation of the employees employment contract.  However, she probably doesn't have any money, so there was no benefit to just suing her. 

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