Rachel Canning is an 18-year-old senior at Morris Catholic High School in New Jersey, USA. She is a cheerleader, lacrosse player, and honours student. Rachel is also gaining attention for an unusual lawsuit she has filed against her parents, Sean and Elizabeth Canning.
As the Daily Record reports, Rachel is suing them for financial support and to “force them to pay for her college education.”
In papers filed at the court, Rachel maintains that her parents decided that on her 18th birthday, she would be cut off from them, “both financially and emotionally.”
In the papers Rachel also said, “My parents have rationalised their actions by blaming me for not following their rules. They stopped paying my high school tuition to punish the school and me and have redirected my college fund, indicating their refusal to afford me an education as a punishment.”
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In addition to this, she said her high school advised her to not return home after she alleged abuse. Morris Catholic President Michael St. Pierre, in a certification to the court said he witnessed, “some difficult meetings between Rachel and Mr. Canning.”
Another school employee, Kathleen Smith, wrote that in October of last year, she heard Rachel’s mother call her, “a foul name and say she didn’t want to speak to her daughter again.”
The school, despite being owed over $4000, will not kick Rachel out of school. They maintain that the parents should be and are on the hook for the payment.
So how is Rachel able to afford an attorney if she can’t afford school? Her friend’s father, John Inglesino is funding the lawsuit, believing Rachel to be in the right. The Record reports that in his letter to the court, Inglesino wrote:
Rachel is likeable, communicates exceptionally well and is highly motivated to attend and excel at a college appropriate for her. That is why my wife and I have decided to fund this lawsuit. We know that if Mr. and Mrs. Canning are not required to fulfill their legal obligations as parents, that Rachel’s ability to fulfill her potential will be greatly diminished.
So what of the parents, Sean and Elizabeth Canning? They maintain they never told Rachel to move out. They also, “contend she had disciplinary problems at school last term, was suspended twice, ignored her curfew at home and bullied her younger sister.” Their attorney, Laurie Rush-Masuret, noted:
Mr. and Mrs. Canning did not tell Rachel to move out; rather they advised her that she is welcome home so long as she abides by their rules under their roof, which is completely reasonable. However, Rachel decided that she does not want to live within her parents’ sphere of influence and voluntarily moved out, essentially emancipating herself. Obviously, she cannot decide she will no longer live within her parents’ sphere of influence and simultaneously seek payment from them for support...
Sean Canning, who before retiring, was Lincoln Park police chief, told the Record, “We love our child and miss her. This is terrible. It’s killing me and my wife. We have a child we want home. We’re not Draconian and now we’re getting hauled into court."
"She’s demanding that we pay her bills but she doesn’t want to live at home and she’s saying, ‘I don’t want to live under your rules.’” He also noted that the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P), “visited his home for about three hours last fall, found nothing amiss, determined that Rachel was “spoiled” and discontinued the investigation.”
Additionally, they say Rachel’s college fund has not been withdrawn or re-allocated.