We've all heard of well-to-do parents trying to get their child into the "right" preschool, thus ensuring their place at the best prep school, and finally the Ivy League college of their (parents') dreams, but "The Playgroup" takes things a step further. Admission to the free preschool, which was set up 14 years ago by Ann and Gordon Getty, is invitation-only. The children of San Francisco's elite are chosen by what the New York Times describes as a "sort of a toddler's version of being tapped for Skull and Bones at Yale."

The secretive school only has about 24 students, but it's under fire because it's unlicensed and its facilities weren't inspected by the fire department until last week. A lawyer for the Getty family is now claiming it's a "private recreation group," not a school, but whatever they call it, there are other troubling allegations surfacing.

Though the families are hesitant to criticize director Lonna Corder, who the Times reports, "can play a powerful role in children's winning admission to private elementary schools," five parents and teachers are accusing her of diagnosing developmental problems in her students. That's a problem because she has no medical training, just a B.A. in child psychology and a teaching certificate. One mother claims Corder told her her son had Asperger's syndrome, but later a doctor found the boy is, "not even marginally abnormal." When the mother asked Corder about her credentials, she responded by telling her to "find another preschool" for her child.

Corder claims she was just making an observation of the boy's symptoms, not a diagnosis, but either way, the administration's lack of responsiveness to complaints is concerning. It's not hard to understand why the parents jumped at the opportunity for their kids to attend a free preschool where they can hobnob with the San Francisco's most well-connected toddlers, but as it turns out, the preschool with no website and no name above the door may be kind of shady.

In Getty's Exclusive Preschool, It's Tough To Fly From Gilded Cage [NYT]

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