Parents who lost $9,000 when a hockey-themed boarding school near Montreal closed say the school's former head approached their son and other children to recruit them for a new venture.
Don and Karen Intine live in Melbourne, Australia and decided to send their 12-year-old son, James, to Harrington College, private school in Oka, located about 60 kilometres west of Montreal.
Last June, the Intines paid for this academic year in full to the tune of $9,000.
"I thought it's a lot of money up front," said James' father. "But, at the same time, you're talking about your 12-year-old son… it's an opportunity of a lifetime."
Little did they know, Harrington College was in trouble with the Quebec's Ministry of Education.
In January 2012, the president of the school's board of directors, John Keightley, talked to CBC's Daybreak.
Click here to listen to to John Keightley's 2012 interview with Daybreak.
He denied allegations that the school was not paying its teachers and that its facilities and its educational standards were not up to par.
A few weeks after the interview, the province's education ministry recommended that the school's permit not be renewed.
A report from Quebec's private education commission determined there was a significant deterioration of educational services at Harrington College.
The school lost its permit on June 30, two days after the Intines paid for their son's tuition.
Parents received no news from the school
Karen Intine said they waited until September to hear back from the school, but were never told it had closed down.
"And we heard nothing, and we heard nothing, and we started to really panic," she said.
The family eventually found a new hockey school in Gatineau and decided to send their son there instead.
Some parents are suing Harrington College, but the Intines decided not to because Don has stage three colon cancer and said he doesn't need the added stress.
However, the family learned that Keightley was keeping a close eye on the young hockey prodigies.
Young hockey players say new school approached them
Two weeks ago, Keightley and another man approached James and other Australian boys at a tournament near Montreal.
The men told James they were starting a new hockey program.
"What they were mainly saying is, 'Our school is going to be really good – are you liking this school?'" said James.
Paolo Gagnon, who runs the hockey program at the Gatineau school and acts as the Australian boys' legal guardian during their stay, said the men asked to meet the children.
"When they approached me, they did not even introduce themselves. I did not know who they were, and they bluntly asked me if they could bring the kids out to dinner," said Gagnon.
Though Keightley would not agree to a recorded interview on CBC, Kells Academy, a private school in Montreal, said he is working as a consultant for the school's new hockey program.
Another Australian family said they were contacted by Keightley after he saw their son, Tyrone, play in a match in Montreal.
"He was a little bit critical of the way they had him — that he didn’t play many shifts — and he wouldn't do that to a child," said Paul Bronte of Melbourne, Australia. "A bit later, he said, 'You know, he'll send me some details of what he's proposing to do next year and we should consider it,'" he said.
Bronte, who is out the $15,000 he already paid Harrington College, said he was not considering the proposal.
Keightley told CBC News on Thursday he felt sorry for the families who were affected by the school's closure, but pointed out that his father posted a $100,000 bond to the education ministry to get Harrington College's school permit.
Neither the Intines or Brontes said they were aware of the fund.
On Monday, a lawyer representing other people involved in a separate lawsuit against Harrington College, said parents had filed claims with the education ministry for $85,000 in reimbursements.