Rachel Canning, the 18-year-old New Jersey cheerleader who has sued her own parents to force them to pay her high school tuition along with living expenses, a weekly allowance and her lawyer’s fees in the lawsuit, got slapped down by a Morristown Superior Court judge Tuesday.
Canning is estranged from her parents, who she says booted her into the street when she turned 18 on the first day of November last year. They did not approve of a boyfriend that she refused to dump, she says.
But her parents say that’s not how it happened. They say that Rachel refused to follow certain rules of the house, for example, curfews — and daily chores. Sean and Elizabeth Canning say that when they refused to lift the family rules, Rachel walked out and turned her back on them, completely of her own free will. And now she wants them to pay her for it. That is what the tuition lawsuit is all about, they say.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Rachel asked a judge to order her parents to pay her remaining tuition bill at the private Catholic high school she attends, a sum that would come to over $5,300. She also wants them to cover her living expenses and dole out a child support allowance of $650 per week.
But Judge Peter Bogaard said that granting the Rachel Canning request would “establish a precedent where parents live in basic fear of establishing rules of the house.”
Her parents just want her back in the house, and say they’re not paying a penny until she comes home.
“Private school, new car, college education; that all comes with living under our roof,” Sean Canning said to a local TV station.
Today’s court hearing was the first time Rachel has seen the elder Canning couple in five months, since leaving their home. She has bee living with her best friend’s family since then, and that family has forked over the $12,000 in legal fees that Rachel Canning has run up so far.
The mother of Rachel Canning’s boyfriend, high school football player Lucas Kitzmiller, also sides with Rachel. Lisa Kitzmiller filed a sworn statement saying that she heard Sean Canning call her son a “scumbag” when the teen couple were having a Facetime conversation.
She quoted Mr. Canning, a retired police chief, telling Rachel, “You are turning 18 and there are two things you have yet to do: Get pregnant or do drugs to the best of my knowledge. You will not be able to see the scumbag or the scumbag’s family anymore.”
The Rachel Canning tuition lawsuit is not over, however, even with Tuesday’s defeat. A hearing on April 22 will determine whether Sean and Elizabeth Canning will be required to pay college tuition for Rachel.