December 29, 2010; Source: KTRK-TV | Dr. Michael Barwil so far has donated $40,000 to the Strake Jesuit College Preparatory School with, as he tells it, the clear understanding that the contribution would ensure his son’s acceptance to the school. “I told him [a school representative] if I do contribute, I would like to know that my son is going to be attending this school. And he said, ‘Well yes, of course.”

When his son was rejected from the Houston, Texas school, Barwil sued to get his donation back on the grounds of “common law fraud” and “negligent misrepresentation.” He claims that his son was rejected as a result of Barwil pledging only $50,000 rather than the $100,000 the school wanted. The school says “nay, nay!” Contributions have nothing to do with admissions.

Barwil, a vascular surgeon, is an alumnus of the school and says he started his conversations with the school five years ago. He no longer wants to see his son go to Strake but says he is pursuing the issue to flag the problem for others.

A lawyer consulted on the matter says the suit may have some merit if, in fact, the college does not explicitly say to donors that it can make no promises.—Ruth McCambridge