Parents at the Catholic Academy of the Holy Family are not losing faith in their school, but the Diocese of Buffalo is not backing down on its decision to close.
"The decision has been made, the decision is final. It will not be revisited," said Kevin Keenan, diocese spokesperson.
The diocese announced early last week that the school would be closing because it failed to meet the benchmarks that were set by the Holy Family Board March 9.
However, Cindy Zuech, parents association co-president, said that parents are refusing to let this ruling stand. She said that parents have been calling the diocese on a daily basis, and that many parents are also attempting to petition the diocese to schedule a meeting with the school.
"They continue to tell us that there will be no meeting. They continue to not take phone calls. I have not heard from the bishop, ever. I continue to call everyday, but he does not respond to any phone calls," Ms. Zuech said.
Parents have continually been told, Ms. Zuech said, that the diocese will not change its mind on closing the school.
"They just say that they're not changing their mind. As far as not answering, I just think that they don't want to be bothered with us," Ms. Zuech said.
According to Keenan, though, phone calls are being returned. He said that more information will continue to be distributed to parents within the next several days.
"We have been returning some phone calls, and we have had a number of emails. There will be some more details that will be forthcoming in the next couple of days. That will go home as a letter to the parents, and it will be distributed to the surrounding parishes as well," Keenan said.
Details on why the school is closing remain unclear to Ms. Zuech and other parents. Ms. Zuech said that the diocese's only answer is to refer to the press release, which was sent out last week.
Keenan said that the reasoning of the diocese is very clear, however.
"There were 69 children that were registered for the upcoming school year. At least 15 of them were not going to pay any tuition. The incoming eighth grade was only going to have one student. There are just a number of factors at play here that did not allow for the continuation of the school. They didn't hit the enrollment benchmark. That's a major reason why the school is not going to reopen in the fall," Keenan said.
The school has been told they they were free to open without a charter, Ms. Zuech said, but that may not be possible for the upcoming school year.
"At this point in time, I don't know if anybody is knowledgeable to (open the school without a charter.) We would have to essentially start over, because the monies that were given to the Catholic Academy of the Holy Family would not have been given to the new school. We would have to change our name. We would not be affiliated with the Catholic diocese. Those are all things that we have to take into consideration, and to be honest, I don't know if we could make it work by the fall," Ms. Zuech said.
Parents at Holy Family school are continuing their crusade by starting a petition that they hope to get signed by community members to support the school. If they are unable to meet their goal of gaining the Diocese of Buffalo's approval to open in the fall, all of the money raised will be returned to donors.
"It's frustrating. Some scrimped and saved and sent whatever money they could in support of the school. It has been very clearly stated from the very beginning that if the school did not open, that all the money would be returned," Ms. Zuech said.
In the meantime, parents are continuing to seek answers from the diocese and rally together to support the school.
"We're members of the Catholic church. We are parishioners. We attend church, and the people that are supposedly in charge are not listening. It's frustrating. It doesn't shake your faith, but it shakes your belief in the system. It shakes your belief in the Catholic church," Ms. Zuech said.