Nursery School Scandal

ByABC News
December 5, 2002, 12:52 PM

Dec. 6 -- This is a story of scandal, set in the heart of New York City's elite social circles. It seems that some of Manhattan's most powerful and well-connected are willing to pull a lot of strings to ensure their kids' ranking in the social pecking order.

The strings that former telecom stock analyst Jack Grubman allegedly pulled three years ago to get his then-2-year-old twins into what is considered a hot nursery school could become the latest scandal to rock Wall Street.

What The Wall Street Journal has dubbed "kid pro quo" offers a rare insight into Manhattan's most exclusive social set, and has prompted the New York State Attorney General to investigate just how far Grubman went to get his kids into a prestigious pre-school.

CEOs Reduced to Tears

Karen Quinn, co-founder of "Smart City Kids," is a professional school placement consultant hired by anxious New York parents desperate to get their children one of the few, coveted spots for one of those hot schools. She gave 20/20 a primer on how the system can work.

Quinn said hot nursery schools are like hot Manhattan restaurants or clubs only a select few can get into them. "I have seen CEOs of big companies reduced to tears over this issue" she said.

Quinn added, "Getting into the right nursery school will help you get into the right private school which will take you to the right Ivy League college."

Quinn says her job is to coach and prepare parents and toddlers, even helping to pick out clothes and jewelry for the big interview. She's seen it all, she says, including the tactics of one single mom, who hired a man to play the part of her husband to boost her chances of getting her kid accepted into the school. After the child was accepted, Quinn said, the mother had to go through a "fake" divorce.

But that's nothing compared with the allegations in the current investigation of what happened at the nursery school at the 92nd Street Y on Manhattan's Upper East Side, known to be perhaps the most elite by New York playground moms like Carol Stillman.