"Uncomfortable," was one word used to describe the scene at Marian Catholic High School Tuesday as about 300 students were pulled from class and a portion of them sent home because their tuition payments weren't up to date.
"We tried to treat them with respect and dignity, but it was difficult," Marian President Judine Hilbing said of students' parents.
Hilbing, who took over the post in July, acknowledged that Monday's situation could have been handled better but said the school needs to get its finances in order, the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday.
The students, whose parents owe between $750 and $1,500, were confused, embarrassed and, the Tribune said, "a few (were) angry."
To make matters worse, Sunday storms knocked out the computer and phone systems at the school, making it impossible for administrators to check payments and balances in the thick of their unprecedented move.
The Tribune article states further: "The situation at Marian comes as parents struggle to make tuition payments amid the recession. Some Catholic schools are already reporting drops in enrollment for next year as cash-strapped parents make the difficult decision to transfer children from Catholic to public schools."
"If a handful can't pay, you can handle it," Hibling said. "When 300 don't pay, how do you pay your bills?"
The total of outstanding bills totals near $450,000, according to the paper.