Dalton, the ultra-exclusive private school on Manhattan's Upper East side that got caught sending a list of rejected and pending applicants to alumni in apparent hopes to squeeze out more money from the ashamed, has suddenly side-stepped the leak — and a lot of people seem to be accepting their non-apology apology, despite a potential "domino effect" of pay-for-acceptance in top city schools. 

After the New York Post's Page Six broke open the scandal Thursday morning, reaction from parents seem to be of the upstairs-downstairs variety. But the Post now reports that Dalton's head of school was swift to offer an apology — one that bends logic in defending privacy malpractice in ways that seem either lawyered-up, straight out of Gossip Girl, or both. Here's the key passage:

In November 2012, a committee of twelve alumni from one class met to plan their upcoming reunion and to discuss a class reunion gift. In an effort to be sensitive to alumni families and other applicants, as a matter of practice, we do not involve families in one-on-one philanthropic solicitations while they are in the application process. Following the meeting, minutes were sent to the committee that listed eight classmates’ names and their recent admissions history. Three other classmates were listed as being in the admissions process as of November 2012. We apologize for and deeply regret the release of this information.

The school's official apology doesn't offer any specifics on this so-called reunion gift —or even why these 11 families got outed, really — and it glosses over the reality that "their recent admissions history" translates, according to the Post, as their recent rejections and/or wait-list status. But Page Six sure makes it sound like Dalton's letter, distributed to alumni, has gone a long way to smooth over relations with alumni whose children had, in fact, been recently rejected.

Either way there was a breach of privacy here that should have never happened. But as we reported yesterday, some of the families on the leaked list are afraid to speak up — having the Upper East Side know your kid got rejected from Dalton is, apparently, a lot worse than blowing the whistle on it. What's even stranger today is that rich parents appear to be continuing to defend the school.

A quick glance at UrbanBaby — a forum for affluent parents — shows you how tight a grip on parents Dalton (and all these elite New York City private schools) still has... and how this scandal may not change anything. One major thread was started on the site over the Dalton news, and you'll notice that one of the first defenses to any criticism of the school is the very Mean Girl-y assertion that this whole thing is a bunch of sour grapes:

 

And on another thread parents are willing to defend Dalton, even though it's admitted wrongdoing:

Judging from those comments, Dalton's reputation looks like it will survive this scandal — admissions letters from Manhattan's private schools are rolling out this week. An experience advisor to parents seeking a way into this elite group of schools told The Daily Beast's Eliza Shapiro that Dalton's scandal could "lead to a 'domino effect' of other exclusive schools mining parents for money during the application process and making it impossible for all but the wealthiest families to send their kids to New York’s top schools." Because Dalton's $38,000 price tag and a history of mining money out of parents — you know, for "regular fundraising" — doesn't already ensure that.... of course.

Here's Dalton's full "apology": 

Dear Dalton Community,

Some of you may have seen recent reports about Dalton in the media. We would like to clarify the facts relative to these reports.

In November 2012, a committee of twelve alumni from one class met to plan their upcoming reunion and to discuss a class reunion gift. In an effort to be sensitive to alumni families and other applicants, as a matter of practice, we do not involve families in one-on-one philanthropic solicitations while they are in the application process. Following the meeting, minutes were sent to the committee that listed eight classmates’ names and their recent admissions history. Three other classmates were listed as being in the admissions process as of November 2012. We apologize for and deeply regret the release of this information.

We are reviewing our protocols to ensure that information about the admissions status of all Dalton families and applicants is protected and remains confidential. We have reached out to apologize personally to those eleven alumni whose names were listed. We greatly value our alumni families and their active engagement in our school community.

We apologize to our broader community and want to assure all of you that confidentiality and privacy remain fundamental values at Dalton. Rest assured that personal information about Dalton families, faculty, staff and alumni are treated with the utmost respect. Dalton’s strength depends upon the bond of trust among all members of our community.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Ellen Stein
Head of School