Parents say shuttered NYC preschool ran off with pricey tuition

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Parents who paid upward of $17,000 in tuition to send their toddlers to exclusive Park Preschool in Tribeca are still waiting on refunds from the shuttered school.

The financial feud is a shocking end for the highly-regarded Greenwich Street nursery school, which has been teaching 2- to 5-year-olds for 31 years.

“It really saddens us that we felt so taken advantage of by [owners] Ellen [Offen] and Kevin [Artale],” reads a Nov. 23 comment by Dan G. on the Tribeca Citizen website. “And to hear that some people were pressured to pay just prior to their closing announcement is unbelievably unethical and sleazy.”

Offen and Artale — who founded the school in 1989 and are known for their personal connections with parents — went silent after announcing the closure in August, citing low enrollment, according to the blog. 

“They both refuse to answer any of our emails or calls and took every opportunity to collect our money in full right before announcing a closure. It’s unethical and just downright disrespectful to all of our families in these hard COVID times,” commenter Bart R. wrote.

Offen and Artale finally got in touch with parents around Thanksgiving after repeated calls from The Post, and admitted to withholding the refunds as they continue to “wind down business matters.” 

“We acknowledge that many of you had made advance tuition payments toward the school year, of which you are currently owed refunds,” reads an email addressed to parents that was shared with The Post on Dec. 3.

The interior of the Park Preschool at 275 Greenwich St.
The interior of the Park Preschool at 275 Greenwich St.
Helayne Seidman

Artale and Offen denied they took parents’ money knowing the school’s fate.

“Literally just a couple of days before our closing announcement, we were actively moving forward with plans to reopen,” they wrote, adding that they are using remaining funds to pay a “restructuring professional,” who is evaluating potential bankruptcy and helping “liquidate all remaining assets.”

But they stopped short of promising full refunds.

“Please know that we are working the hardest now than at other point this calendar year, to wind down business matters and preserve value for the benefit of the Park Preschool’s families and vendors,” they wrote. “We sincerely hope to resolve all matters as efficiently as possible, and with maximum benefit to you all.”

All staff has been let go and the owners have given up their salaries, the email says. 

Neither Artale nor Offen could be reached for comment. Admissions Director Khris Della Pace hung up on a reporter.



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