BPN subscribers may submit negative reviews that meet our Rules for Posting a Negative Review. If your school or business has a negative review on BPN, please see "If your business has a negative review" below.
BPN's main goal is to be helpful to parents. It is useful for parents to read about other parents' bad experiences as well as the good so they can make better decisions. However, we want to be fair to schools and businesses in our community. We don't want BPN to be a vehicle for spreading rumors and gossip, or as a way for disgruntled former employees to settle a score. BPN policy is intended to balance usefulness with fairness. BPN moderators make every effort to make sure that all negative reviews meet this policy and that the policy is applied fairly.
When posting a review, BPN subscribers agree to follow the Negative Review Policy and they affirm that their review does meet the following requirements:
Unsolicited reviews: Negative reviews are accepted only in response to a relevant question in Parent Q&A. Reviews that are posted directly to the profile page of a school, business, or organization cannot contain negative reviews. New questions posted to Parent Q&A cannot contain negative reviews, nor can parents post new questions asking for negative feedback. See Unsolicited Negative Reviews for more information.
First-hand experience: Negative reviews and criticisms must be based on the first-hand experience of the BPN subscriber who is posting. We do not accept negative comments based on the experiences of neighbors, friends, co-workers, or relatives. We do not accept negative reviews from people who have worked at the school or business they are reviewing. If you are posting a negative review of a school, class, or camp, your child must have actually attended, not just visited or applied. If you are posting a negative review of a neighborhood, you must have actually lived in the neighborhood. (Why is first-hand experience required?)
Accuracy: We require and assume that BPN subscribers who post negative reviews are posting a true and accurate account of their own first-hand experience. This is the case 99% of the time, but we do follow up with the subscriber who posted the review if there are any questions later about authenticity or accuracy.
Individual people who are not businesses: Negative reviews are not accepted for individuals who 1) work for you in your home, under your direction, or 2) work for someone else. This means BPN does not accept negative reviews of teachers, playground supervisors, nannies, housekeepers, receptionists, waiters, etc. (Why are these not accepted?)
Neutral and factual: Negative reviews must describe the events that caused you to have a bad experience as objectively as possible, in a neutral tone without name-calling or using derogatory adjectives. This gives other parents the information they need to form their own opinions rather than taking the word of someone they don't know.
Parent Q&A policies: Negative reviews and comments must follow all the policies for Parent Q&A. For example, a negative review must address the original question that was asked -- if someone asks about a specific school, negative reviews about a different school are not accepted.
Multiple negative reviews from the same person: BPN does not accept more than one review from the same subscriber about the same negative experience.
Reports of law-breaking or license violations: BPN does not accept negative reviews that seek to report unlawful situations such as license violations, abuse, or malpractice. Please instead report these to the appropriate authority. See "Why can't I post about license violations and illegal acts?" below.
We do not remove negative reviews from our website except in very specific cases. All reviews are checked by a BPN moderator before being published to make sure they follow policy.
Prior to 2016, all reviews appeared first in one of the BPN newsletters, which were emailed only to BPN subscribers. We eventually archived many of these newsletter reviews, both positive and negative, to our website. We continue to add archival reviews as time permits. We can't guarantee how fast these old reviews will be archived, or even if they ever will be archived. We do not archive any reviews to the website for people whom we consider are not businesses. See How BPN Defines a Business.
In 2016 we rolled out a new website that allows parents to post reviews directly to the website. Once a post is reviewed by a moderator, it is available to the public on our website.
The current negative review policy was developed in May 2005, and has been revised several times since then. The BPN website has been online since 1995. Therefore older negative reviews may have been posted under previous policies. We update older reviews as time permits, but please be aware that some older reviews may conflict with the current policy. We also occasionally overlook a review that does not meet BPN policy, despite our best efforts. Please Contact Us to tell us about a review on our website that doesn't appear to meet the current policy.
If your business is reviewed on our website, you can respond to the review or ask us to remove reviews as outlined below.
All reviews posted prior to 2016 appeared originally in one of the weekly email newsletters that were mailed to subscribers. Reviews from the newsletters were later archived to the website, as time permitted. Beginning in 2016, parents can post responses to questions directly on the website. All posts are reviewed by a BPN moderator to make sure they follow BPN policy.
Please Note! If there is a negative review of your business on BPN that contains factual errors or misinformation, or doesn't meet our policy in some other way, please Contact Us to notify us and we will investigate. We usually reply within 24 hours.
Your options if your business has a negative review on BPN:
Post a response. You can write a response to the review and we'll add it to the website directly following the negative review. Responding to a negative review can be a good opportunity not only to set the record straight, but also to let parents know more about your school or business. Contact Us if you would like us to post a response.
Older, non-compliant review. The current negative review policy was developed in May 2005 and has been revised several times since then. There may be older reviews on the website that predate the current policy. Please Contact Us to let us know about this situation.
Professional standards exception. If you are prohibited from responding to a negative review because of privacy laws such as HIPAA or some other professional regulation, please Contact Us to let us know about this.
New owner exception. If you are the new owner of a business (or the new director/principal at a school) and the negative reviews apply to the previous owner, we can remove the old postings and start afresh. In this case, please Contact Us.
Remove all reviews. You can decline to be reviewed on BPN. We'll remove all postings about your business that are currently on the website, good and bad, and add a note that you've asked not to be reviewed on BPN. We will not accept further reviews of your business, whether positive or negative. Please Contact Us to request this.
Since the early days of BPN, we have observed that parents rarely post negative reviews, and we originally accepted most negative reviews on the assumption that one negative review would have little effect on parents' opinions of a school that had received far more positive reviews on BPN. However, this assumption turned out to be incorrect. We found that parents would refer to the "mixed" reviews of a school that had 10 great reviews and 1 bad one, or comment that "all the public schools in my area have bad reviews on BPN" even if those schools had far more positive reviews. Some bad reviews had been posted by a parent whose child didn't actually attend the school, but that bad review could trump 10 glowing reviews from happy parents at the school. We realized that parents were often not considering their local public schools because of a false perception created by bad reviews on BPN. We noticed the same effect happening for other recommendations on BPN, such as pediatricians, local neighborhoods, and childcare. We decided to be strict about what types of negative reviews we'd accept.
Most reviews on BPN's website were posted in response to a question from another parent in Parent Q&A. But BPN also accepts unsolicited reviews for schools and other child-related businesses such as childcare, camps, classes and pediatricians. Unsolicited reviews can be posted directly to the profile page of the school or business on BPN.
Why we don't accept negative unsolicited reviews:
- We don't want parents to use BPN as a way to "get back" at a business, or coerce them into solving a dispute in their favor by threatening them with a bad review on BPN (this has happened!).
- Bad reviews that are posted in the heat of the moment are often just blowing off steam, and are not helpful for a parent who is researching a school or camp. Negative reviews that are posted with some perspective gained over time have more value for other parents.
- A single negative review can disproportionately affect very small businesses such as home-based daycares that may serve only 5 or 6 families over a period of several years, none of whom subscribe to BPN. It's typical for BPN to receive just one review every few years for a small daycare. If that one review is negative, it gives the false perception this is a "bad" daycare.
- If you posted a positive review in the past, and your opinion has now changed, you can post an update to your previous review. Please contact us for instructions about how to post your update. (Note: BPN does not remove reviews, so posting an update is the only remedy we can offer.)
- In very rare cases an unsolicited negative review will be accepted if the BPN Board of Directors decides that the review's usefulness for other parents overrides our restrictions on negative reviews. For example, we may accept an unsolicited negative review that points out significant license violations for a childcare facility that currently has only positive reviews on BPN, if the review meets all the other provisions of the negative review policy.
Teachers and employees typically do not have decision-making privileges at their school or business, so they have little control over the way the larger organization operates. It isn't fair for BPN to publish negative reviews about them if they don't have the power to correct the bad situation described in the review. If you don't think they should be employed at the school or business in the first place, the right person to complain to is the person who can fire them.
As for people who work in your home, BPN does not wish to publicize the names of private individuals who have not chosen to be public. Furthermore, a negative review about someone who works in your home usually says more about your own personal preferences and beliefs than about whether they'd be satisfactory for another parent, so this type of review is not helpful for other parents.
See How BPN Defines a Business for the difference between "individual" and "business."
In its early years BPN accepted reviews of schools regardless of whether the person's child had attended the school. But we stopped doing that after learning a few things over the years by trial-and-error:
- We found we were sometimes publishing gossip on our website. For example a poster would say they "heard" a school has a bullying problem, or post details about an upsetting event they heard about from a friend. BPN does not have the resources to investigate reports like this and make sure what people post is true. Because of the damage that could be caused by a negative comment about a school, we only accept posts from parents who describe actual first-hand experience.
- We heard from parents whose kids attended and liked a school, who felt it was unfair for BPN to publish bad reviews from parents whose kids had never attended the school, but had visited for a short time or heard about it from friends. We agree this is not fair, especially in view of a negative review's disproportionate affect on the overall impression of a school, as discussed above.
- We occasionally inadvertently published a negative review of a school or summer camp that turned out to have been written by disgruntled former employee who wanted to retaliate. So we now require a description of a parent's first-hand experience.
BPN does not accept negative reviews that describe license violations, abuse or neglect, illegal acts, malpractice, or any other activities that are regulated by law. If you think someone has broken the law, or violated the terms of their license, or engaged in any other activity that could result in legal action, please contact the proper authority such as the local police, Child Protective Services, or the provider's licensing agency. If you need help identifying the proper agency to report this to, you may post your question to one of the newsletters or ask the moderator.
BPN has no way to investigate complaints to make sure they are true, nor can BPN take any action that will remedy the situation. Schools are overseen by school boards and preschools and daycares are licensed by a state agency. These agencies have the authority to investigate problems and make changes. BPN does not have this power. Therefore we ask parents to work with these authorities to correct dangerous or illegal problems rather than post about them on BPN. BPN also does not accept posts that describe past or pending legal actions and violations. We do not have the resources to confirm or deny information like this, and we do not want to publicize unverified information that is potentially very damaging to a local business.
Childcare licensing violations: BPN only accepts reviews of licensed childcare and preschool programs, whether the reviews are positive or negative. Each childcare facility that has a profile page on BPN has a link to its licensing record in the state's database, so that parents looking for childcare can review the state's records for that facility and find out about any past complaints or citations. BPN does accept negative reviews that refer to past violations that are available online in the state's database, as long as the review otherwise meets our policies.* However, we do not accept descriptions of new violations. If you believe your daycare has violated the terms of its license, such as safety issues, unauthorized care-givers, exceeding its capacity, or neglect or abuse, please contact Community Care Licensing to file a complaint, because this agency is equipped and authorized to investigate problems, take any needed actions, and record violations in a public database that all parents can view. See About Childcare Licensing for information about how to file a complaint.
* added in Nov. 2017