Disney on the edge

Parents can’t sue for educational malpractice if the local public school is no good. But a Florida couple will be allowed to sue Disney Co. because it sold its Celebration development by touting a “cutting-edge” public school.

The parents of a learning-disabled boy bought a home in the Walt Disney Co.’s master-planned Florida community, Celebration, in hopes their son would thrive at what they were told was a cutting-edge public school.

Instead, Paul and Connie Simon’s son, Nick, regressed, harmed by what his parents claim was a chaotic school environment nothing like the place promised by the Celebration Co. and the Osceola County School District in Central Florida. They say their daughter, Ana, also suffered, and they enrolled both in private school.

Disney gave the school district $5 million plus land for a school, and charged more for homes near the school.

Celebration School does have “cutting-edge” curriculum and heavy use of technology.

Instead of traditional classrooms, students at the Celebration School receive instruction in large, technologically advanced meeting areas called neighborhoods.

For many students, that turns out to be chaotic and ineffective.

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  1. Wait a minute! Hasn’t everybody else already “figured out” the ‘open’ concept is of questionable value????

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    One of my architects, back in the 60’s, made big bucks selling districts on “Team Teaching” classrooms, where one big room was subdivided by movable partitions that could close off to seperate classes, or open up so one master teacher could teach all of them.
    My son was in one such class for several years, and the partition was never opened. The teachers would never agree who the master teacher was.

  3. A developer should never make promises that the government is supposed to keep.

  4. PJ/Maryland says:

    After years in the computer industry, I think I can say that the cutting-edge is frequently chaotic.

    Seriously, Disney’s planned community doesn’t sound that different from earlier plans (Columbia here in Maryland, Reston in Virginia). I don’t remember schools being particularly played up (the major theme was “a community of neighborhoods” and how you could walk to everything, which hasn’t quite worked out). Since schools usually take something like 50% of the property taxes, they have to be mentioned.

    I wonder if Celebration has other family-attracting features. If the schools were a major part of the pitch, I think the parents have a good case.

    Hasn’t everybody else already “figured out” the ‘open’ concept is of questionable value????

    Bill, this is a completely different concept!!! These chaotic open areas are called “neighborhoods” and so have nothing to do with the chaotic open areas called open classrooms!

  5. Jim Thomason says:

    I don’t see much of a case here. The parents weren’t promised an “excellent” school, or even a “good” one. They were instead promised a “cutting edge” one, which it appears they received.

    Perhaps they should instead consider a suit against the schools they themselves attended – their knowledge of basic English seems to be lacking.

  6. They don’t call them “celebrats” for nothing.

  7. Richard Brandshaft says:

    The common techie joke is to substitute “bleeding edge” for “cutting edge.” Every techie knows that “cutting edge” means “the customer is the beta tester”; “you’re the guinea pig”; “lotsa luck”; “the pioneer is the one with the arrows in his back”.

    But the news article says: “…what they [the parents] were told was a cutting-edge public school…” This is a news article paraphrasing a legal complaint which presumably paraphrased the advertising. The question is whether the advertising was actually deceptive, not whether the parents should have known better than to believe a lie. That is a question of fact involving a lot of detail. That’s why we have trials and juries.


  1. Overlawyered says:

    Celebration educational malpractice lawsuit

    A Florida appeals court has ruled that a family may sue a school district and a Disney subsidiary that developed the community of Celebration for allegedly false representation in marketing materials that the public school in the area was “cutting-edge…

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    FIRST UP: I made this week’s Carnival of the Capitalists (over at samaBlog). In fact, I made it twice. Go me. *cabbagepatching* From Vox Day (who else), something about people who try to help their kids, and how the public…