NEW ORLEANS — After 75 years of teaching students, Ridgewood Prep is closing its doors after class Wednesday.
Families of Ridgewood Prep students were scrambling on Tuesday to enroll their children in another school for Thursday morning.
They were in and out of the Metairie school all day, getting transcripts and records. They are surprised to hear it's closing.
“Disappointed. Let down. This school had a special niche for the child that may learn differently or be different that I don't see in other schools," Marion Fabacher, the grandmother of an eighth grader, said. "This gave to the children that needed it, the things they needed."
One senior will need to finish her year at Ecole Classique.
“It's heartbreaking. I've built great friendships and a bond with people. It's sad,” Ridgewood senior Rebeca Aragon said.
“It sucks because one, I did a full deposit, and I wish I had that money still, but it's going to impact my education really badly,” Ridgewood freshman Jacob Glago said.
He says he's been told he won't get the spring semester's tuition back for his transfer to Bonnabel High School. The Ridgewood administration says enrollment is falling.
In the fall, there were 145 students, and only 114 came back after the holiday break.
The nonprofit school is out of money to pay its more than two dozen teachers. The 89-year-old headmaster is in deteriorating health and can't get a personal loan.
Kehoe-France school in Metairie is getting dozens of inquiries.
“It started yesterday. We're getting E-mails and phone calls from parents who are in a panic, obviously. We are offering to help as many families as we can,” Nicole Stumpf, Kehoe-France Director of Admissions for the Metairie branch said.
Ridgewood made tuition and class arrangements for another Metairie school, Ecole Classique. It can take all of its students.
Before Hurricane Katrina, the school had more than 600 students. Now has 210.
“You've seen a lot of change in education, home school students, charter schools, things have changed, but our enrollment has been pretty much consistent since that time period,” David Federico, Principal of Ecole Classique, said.
This is not the first time for Ecole Classique. It absorbed students over the years from Mercy Academy, Sam Barthe, Stuart Prep and Ganus.
There are plans for transferring seniors to still graduate from Ridgewood. And Ecole hopes to be able to hire some of the teachers.
“We want to make that transition as easy as possible for them to take a little bit that was at Ridgewood and make it a part of Ecole,” Federico said.
“It's going to be a change, but we can help them get used to it,” Ecole Classique senior Blake Theriot said about the incoming students.
A couple of students who graduated two years ago came to the school Tuesday when they heard the news.
All they wanted to do was thank their favorite teacher for making a big difference in their lives and direction in life.