Newark private school abruptly closes after accepting tuition for next semester

The school year abruptly ended for a private school in Newark on Friday after teachers and families received a shocking email.

The email sent on Wednesday by Victor Dawson, principal and owner of New Horizons School, notified the school community that the semester would end three weeks earlier than anticipated due to the institution filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The private school serves junior kindergarten through eighth-grade students.

The email from Dawson caught parents off guard.

Sheena Verma, whose two children have been attending since junior kindergarten, said, "We were all shocked, my kids were crying, all the parents, everyone was really upset about this."

Two months ago, parents learned some teachers were not being paid. More recently, it was revealed that utilities and the lease were also unpaid.

"The owner-principal of the school just disappeared. He sent us a couple of emails here and there, saying he was trying to obtain a loan, but it never happened," said Verma.

Many parents hadn't seen Dawson for weeks. Last month, he offered a three to five percent tuition discount for families willing to pay in advance for the next year.


San Francisco school district faces dire budget crisis

School board members in San Francisco called a special meeting Tuesday night to hear the results of a state audit on its budget crisis.

"About 20 parents pre-paid the approximate $14,000 tuition. Altogether, that’s about $250 thousand dollars, and they don’t know if they’re going to see that money again," said Verma.

Vice Principal Angela Eggleston has tried to uplift students' spirits, but it has been challenging.

"When info was brought to light about the lease not being current, about the staff not being paid, we did lose some students, we lost about 20 to 22 students. Now we’re down to 78" said Eggleston.

Hadi Rafi, a middle school math and science teacher at New Horizons, said that he hasn't been paid in four months. Despite this, he, like some other teachers, continues to show up.

After Friday's graduation, Rafi said, "We’re all supposed to be paid today, everything we’re owed. But I checked my account, nothing’s there."

Eggleston said that students are struggling emotionally with the sudden end of the school year.

"Our students are resilient, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t hurting. I hear from parents that they’re having anxiety; they’re crying at night, they don’t understand. Because it’s just so different from what they had experienced their entire time here. We’re a small community," said Eggleston.

Dawson has not responded to KTVU's request for comment.

A complaint was filed through the California Department of Labor for the unpaid wages of teachers and staff.

Families hope that teachers and staff will receive what they are owed.

Some parents are exploring alternatives for their students for the fall semester.

Alice Wertz is a freelance reporter for KTVU Fox 2 News. She can be reached at