June 22, 2017
Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx filed a lawsuit against a basketball-centered, private Chicago high school and the chief executive of the school, for allegedly failing to refund thousands of dollars in tuition and fees to parents who paid to enroll their children in the school, which closed two weeks into the 2015-2016 school year.
The lawsuit filed today, names the Chicago Basketball Academy, L3C, and the school’s founder and chief executive, Damond L. Williams, a former college and professional basketball player who established the Academy as a low profit-limited liability company in 2013. Williams promoted his co-ed, private boarding high school as an institution that prepared students for college basketball and for careers in the basketball industry, and solicited families to enroll their child at the Academy for the 2015-2016 academic year through the school’s website, marketing materials, and direct solicitations of parents.
According to the lawsuit, parents who enrolled their child at the Academy paid between $2,100 and $2,600 in application, tuition, and other fees for educational and athletic services that their children never received. The Academy allegedly closed within two weeks of its opening after teachers permanently dismissed students because the school had not furnished them with course curriculums, textbooks, or instructional materials, and had failed to pay them. The parents of the enrolled students later sought refunds from Williams but were denied.
At the time parents were solicited and asked to sign the Academy’s student enrollment contracts, neither Williams nor the Academy operated a high school, furnished classrooms to students, or retained the teaching and coaching staff needed to implement the private high school’s advertised curriculum.
The suit also alleges that Williams knew that the Academy had failed to attract the financial investment needed to build and operate the private high school, and to implement the advertised educational, athletic and vocational programs. Additionally, Williams misrepresented the Academy was approved by the Illinois State Board of Education, and issued fake financial award letters to parents.
The Academy also inaccurately reported that it had partnered with local sports-related businesses to provide its students with the innovative educational, athletic and vocational programs described in the school’s informational brochure.
The suit alleges that defendants’ deceptive and unlawful practices are ongoing, and that the Academy also fraudulently solicited charitable donations and financial contributions to support its purported school from members of the public via its website, www.chicagobasketballacademy.org.
The State’s Attorney’s lawsuit seeks refunds for victims, rescission of all contracts entered through fraud, a ban on the Academy and Williams’ deceptive and unlawful business practices, and civil penalties of up to $50,000.00.
Consumers who feel that may be the victims of fraud by the Chicago Basketball Academy are urged to contact the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office Consumer Fraud Unit at (312) 603-8700 for more information.
A copy of the complaint can be viewed here.