Is Dzana Homan an Abusive CEO? School of Rock, Sterling Partners Controversy Grows

Sterling Partners’ School of Rock franchisees allege that CEO Dzana Homan has transformed a positive, upbeat, music-and kid-centered culture into a dark and oppressive environment where owners and students alike are disrespected.  Since Homan took the helm in 2014, insiders allege, a “beautiful company” staffed by experienced, passionate professionals has become a hostile work environment where owners and employees are bullied and demeaned.  Unhappy Franchisee is reaching out to Ms. Homan, School of Rock, and Sterling Partners for reaction and comment.

(UnhappyFranchisee.Com)  School of Rock franchise owners and insiders have seized the opportunity to share their frustration and dismay with what they describe as the decline of the School of Rock franchise program and the brand that they bought into.

Sterling PartnersUnhappy Franchisee gives franchise owners and corporate insiders the opportunity to share their experiences and opinions anonymously – without fear of reprisals or other repercussions from intimidating franchisors.

This opportunity seems to have given a forum to the pent-up complaints from School of Rock franchisees who say they are afraid to voice their concerns to CEO Dzana Homan – whom some describe as petty, vindictive, demeaning and dictatorial.

It should be noted that we do not know Dzana Homan and had never heard of her until we received the initial complaints that prompted our posting of the discussion post:

SCHOOL OF ROCK Franchise Complaints

We also don’t know how many of the owners of the 152 School of Rock franchise locations share these negative views that seem to focus on CEO Dzana Holman.

We don’t know how she was regarded by the franchisees of her former companies, including Goddard Early Learning, Huntington Learning Centers and FutureKids.

So, in fairness, we are reaching out to Ms. Homan, School of Rock and Sterling Partners executives for their views, opinions, clarifications, acknowledgements and/or rebuttals.

Is CEO Dzana Holman an Abusive CEO… Or is She Being Unfairly Attacked? 

Dzana HomanWe believe the complaints against Dzana Homan are a serious issue, as one of two scenarios exists.

If the allegations are true, both School of Rock franchise owners (who have invested $140,000 – $340,000 and have their livelihoods on the line) and Sterling Partners investors are at risk due to an abusive company CEO being allowed to undermine a once-impassioned company.

The franchise owners who have invested the capital, passion and sweat equity to build the School of Rock brand deserve better – and we would ask Sterling Partners to make sure they get it.

If the allegations aren’t true or are overstated, a high-profile educational franchise executive is being unfairly denigrated.

We will be happy to publish testimonials of those who vouch for Homan’s professionalism and leadership abilities.

So we invite franchise owners, former franchise owners, employees & former employees, and those who may have worked with Ms. Holman at FutureKids, Goddard Early Learning, Huntington Learning Centers or elsewhere to weigh in on this issue.

Is Ms. Dzana Homan a dedicated educational franchise executive?  Or a tyrannical despot who puts profits & control before people?

For discussion purposes, we have grouped the initial complaints about CEO Holman by topic, and invite comments below or by email to UnhappyFranchisee[at]

Dzana Holman Complaint:  Hostility Toward Franchise Owners, Staff

An Anonymous owner wrote:

Over the course of the last 3 years, almost the entire corporate team has changed after the new CEO [Dzana Homan ] was hired, and several new hires left after a short tenure.

Anonymous wrote:

…it’s very disappointing to have such a hostile relationship with the franchisor, especially, the CEO. She goes after franchisees who speak up instead of genuinely seeking to fix problems. We used to work together with corp to fix this stuff but now there is zero concern at the top about franchisees ability to make money.

Anonymous (but wish I didn’t have to be) wrote:

The relationship with the executive management team is not a nurturing one, and is often confrontational, with considerable effort put on compliance and very little on finding ways to make the franchise owners money

Anonymous (afraid of retaliation) wrote:

Owners are either bullied or ignored, there never seems to be a middle ground… The owners, students, and staff deserve a better leader in corporate.

School Owner wrote:

…many of the franchisees will be totally afraid to post here for fear of retaliation from expressing their opinion, which really isn’t right. Many owners have invested significant amounts of money in this business, some their entire retirement bankrolls, and to have to deal from a position of fear of retaliation from the CEO simply isn’t right. There are many smart owners with skill sets that exceed those on the corporate side and to have to work in this environment is really counterproductive.

Franchise Owner wrote:

The CEO Dzana Homan is doing a wonderful job at destroying the company that used to thrive because of the culture and passion for music education… The one and only thing to corp team is concerned with is their how much money are they making.

Anonymous Owner wrote:

Ms. Homan has effectively alienated the owners and made them afraid to speak up lest they be the recipient of retaliatory actions. She has behaved aggressively towards staff and owners and refused to recognize or interact with the independent franchisee organization after essentially disbanding the FAC. We are treated like children, when in fact, the majority of owners within the system have a great deal of experience in the professional realm and that knowledge/experience is wasted and ignored.

The relationship with the executive management team is not pleasant one, and is often confrontational. There is little to no trust in the CEO or the staff due to the constant fear of retaliation.

Anonymous Franchisee wrote:

Almost every interaction is adversarial, to the point where you almost go out of your way not to have them.   Maybe that is the intent.

Dzana Holman Complaint:  Lack of Franchise Support

Anonymous wrote:

There is zero support from the corporate group and they are thinly staffed (due to such high turnover) and no one up there has any real understanding of how to run a school from an owner standpoint.

Anonymous (but wish I didn’t have to be) wrote:

People are really left to their own devices, which is maybe ok if you are an experienced owner, but it is not really fair to new owners who buy in expecting a formal franchise relationship with best practices around managing a music education business, when there are none.

Anonymous Owner wrote:

There are no standard operating procedures, no training manuals, no training department, no curriculum, and no support in regards to operating our business effectively or developing leads.

Dzana Holman Complaint:  No Curriculum Development

Anonymous wrote:

This is a music education business with no product VP – no one in charge of music education, curriculum development or training.

Franchise Owner wrote:

As a Franchise Owner of School of Rock, the product we were sold is not what we purchased… Now, there is ZERO music department, no curriculum, no on going training, and no corporate staff in charge of improving the product we sell to our clients.

Anonymous Owner wrote:

We are a music education program that needs a strong and legitimate curriculum with a strong training/educational team supporting it.

Anonymous wrote:

[Dzana Homan] misses call after call after call while team members were working diligently to solve copyright issues and curriculum issues with Hal Leonard publishing. Ceases all progress with no alternative plan.

Dzana Holman Complaint:  Ineffective Marketing

Anonymous (afraid of retaliation) wrote:

We pay high royalties fees and brand funding fees with almost no national marketing campaign. What we do get I spend hours reworking.

Anonymous Owner wrote:

We pay very high royalties fees and brand funding fees with little to no national marketing campaign. SoR tries to rely heavily on the School of Rock musical and the Nickelodeon TV show to be recognized nationally, but we are not a musical and we are not a TV show.

Anonymous Owner wrote:

The owners continue to ask for meaningful and effective marketing campaigns delivered within enough time to make an impact in their markets but campaigns are typically rolled out late in the game. We have asked for editable marketing materials to use in local markets only to be met with demands for phone calls to be “called down” by the “principal” and berated.

Anonymous wrote:

[Dzana Homan] overweights and overvalues the effect that “School of Rock Musical” and Nickelodeon television show will have on brand. Effects are basically zero positive and actually trivialize the real School of Rock experience.

Anonymous Owner – for fear of retaliation wrote:

we are having a corporate conference call today to discuss Summer Camps. We start camps in June. (That’s 6 days from now.) Everything for camps needed to be completed MINIMUM of 60 days ago.

Anonymous wrote:

National Press is almost only about her and her escape from her home country. With her the kids come last.

Dzana Holman Alleged Racist, Homophobic & Discriminatory Statements

One Anonymous commenter posted a list of disturbing statements allegedly made by School of Rock CEO Dzana Holman.

When Ms. Homan found out an employee was pregnant and had limited travel ability, she allegedly said:

This is why you don’t hire women with kids, children are a weakness.

When Ms. Homan found out that an employee had given her two weeks notice, she allegedly said:

Get that fat Asian bitch out of my school

Referring to a homosexual member of School of rock community, Homan allegedly said:

Why didn’t you tell me she was gay, I could have flirted with her to get what I want

Regarding a co-worker, Ms. Homan allegedly said:

She’s not pretty enough for LA

On her tactic to avoid paying an employee severance, Homan allegedly said:

I will make his life miserable with meaningless work until he quits

When she became angry in a meeting, CEO Homan allegedly crumpled a piece of paper violently and said:

I wish I had a little animal that I could squeeze

Dzana Holman Complaint:  Screwdrivers & Screaming

Anonymous – who contributed the offensive quotes above – also alleges that CEO Dzana Holman drinks in the office to the point of drunkenness and vents on the corporate staff.

Anonymous wrote:

[Dzana Homan]  drinks vodka and orange juice in office and becomes inebriated. Begins screaming at employee for being insubordinate.

Tired of the abuse wrote:

The fact of the matter is, the CEO really needs to go. She is a narcissist, completely devoid of any self-awareness and has absolutely no ability to emphathize with us as owners. We have heard directly from her staff about what a bully she is, and often their interests in moving the needle in a positive direction are thwarted by her as a general practice.
I have absolutely no confidence in her ability to lead this organization, and if the Sterling Partners organization can’t see the issues, I have no confidence in them either.

DISCLAIMER & INVITATION:  Views and statements are those of the comment authors and do not necessarily reflect Unhappy Franchisee or its staff.  We don’t know Dzana Homan and have no inside knowledge of the School of Rock.  Unhappy Franchisee provides a forum for all sides of this issue to state their opinions and debate the facts.  We have reached out to CEO Dzana Homan, School of Rock executives, Sterling Partners, franchise owners, and staff for comments, corrections, clarifications, affirmations and/or rebuttals.  Please comment below or email us in confidence at UnhappyFranchisee[at]Gmail.Com.



SCHOOL OF ROCK Franchise Complaints



TAGS: Dzana Homan, CEO Dzana Homan, School of Rock, School of Rock franchise, School of Rock franchise opportunity, School of Rock franchise complaints, Sterling Partners, education franchise, education franchise opportunity, education franchise complaints, Paul Green School of Rock Music, unhappy franchisee

15 thoughts on “Is Dzana Homan an Abusive CEO? School of Rock, Sterling Partners Controversy Grows

  • May 25, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    The fact of the matter is, the CEO really needs to go. She is a narcissist, completely devoid of any self-awareness and has absolutely no ability to emphathize with us as owners. We have heard directly from her staff about what a bully she is, and often their interests in moving the needle in a positive direction are thwarted by her as a general practice.
    I have absolutely no confidence in her ability to lead this organization, and if the Sterling Partners organization can’t see the issues, I have no confidence in them either.

  • May 29, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    I have to agree with the comment above. I have tried to engage in respectful and positive ways only to be threatened and ridiculed. My communications remain professional and civil only to be answered with accusations and called down for asking legitimate business related questions. It’s not just Ms. Homan, but also her “executive team” who have either never had any training in professional communications or are so fearful for their jobs that they go along with her behavior and oft times mirror it.

    Ms. Homan’s response email almost made me laugh. I went through every email and every meeting request to find that the majority of CEO/Owners calls were cancelled for one reason or another. There were very few calls and the last one was in Sept. of 2016. Ms. Homan thinks that one on one communication is best but it only serves to further alienate the owners. Most times, Ms. Homan has one of her “executive team” sitting in the room with her most likely to make sure she doesn’t spin out of control.

    The Innovation Teams of which sshe speaks were virtually non-existent in that they didn’t last very long and were left to sit idle. Teams were not allowed to effectively analyze the issues at hand and form an effective solution. Instead, they were shut down and Ms. Homan took whatever actions she wanted.

    Communications to Ms. Homan regarding complaints from our customers who receive franchising information fall in deaf ears. SoR continues to solicit our customers to open franchises although the majority have expressed general disdain for receiving these types of emails from Corp. our customers are loyal to uses, the owners. Corp. has consistently continued to solicit our customers.

    Additionally, SoR Corp. have placed inappropriate and tasteless posts on social media. When questioned by owners of it’s the best way to sell SoR, Ms. Homan tends to make excuses and ensure that the intentions of the posts were purely positive, rather than take her team to task on mistakes that were made. Instead, somehow it is the owners’ fault for pointing it out.

    There is constant turnover at the Corp. level and creating new positions with big names doesn’t hide that fact.

    We pay way too much in fees and royalties to be able to make a dime in this business. We need solid leadership and trust that the owners always have the best interests of the brand in mind.

    Absolutely the CEO needs to go, but Sterling also needs to step up and do the right thing by all the Owners that have invested their savings, hearts and souls into this business.

  • June 2, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    Sterling should really be ashamed. They continue to support a group of underqualified, inexperienced and uninformed people at the executive management level. Owners are tired of being threatened with “getting Dzana involved” or “having a call with Dzana” when we ask legitimate questions that pertain to the success of our businesses. The ownership of these issues don’t just lie with Ms. Holman, as there are others that willingly take part in her charge of trying to instill fear in the owners through bullying and making threats as well as retaliating against owners who are working hard to run their businesses with little to no support and no clear answers to legitimate questions. How do they sleep at night? How do they sleep at night knowing that their blatant disregard for anything other than their own gain and their inappropriate actions have interfered with and become a detriment to the employer/employee relationships of their franchisees?

    Sterling and the School of Rock board need to do the right thing and make it right. Rid this system of Ms. Holman and those that happily follow Ms. Homan’s lead, as any respect they may have received in the past has long since been extinguished. Answer our questions. Fulfill your promises. Make School of Rock great again. There is a simple solution to jumpstart the process. You know what you need to do.

  • June 3, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    So we had our first systemwide call after this blog got started. No mention was even made of the blog, which seemed really odd, but that may have been under advice of counsel.
    A couple of things of note…
    – It was reported that franchisee schools grew at 20% YOY for SS sales, and the company schools grew at a 2% YOY for SS sales, for April But yet our narcissist CEO took credit for that due to her engagement and leadership. On the same call she asked ‘can the franchisor make anyone successful?’ From my experience, the owner’s do all the heavy lifting here…little help from the SoR management team.
    – in a letter from our CEO as a response to the numerous postings on this site, she said ‘I instituted a monthly CEO Call – a meeting where I was alone with the owners and allowed for Q&A.’ With the reality being that the last CEO call was close to a year ago, it was asked when we might be able to get the CEO calls restarted, to which her response was ‘we can always get those scheduled again’. She can’t even keep her lies straight.
    Evidently the School of Rock board and Sterling Partners is believing her spin and deception. Anyone wanna buy an incredible music education franchise? I don’t mean mine…I mean buy us from Sterling Partners.

  • June 3, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    What about Justin Nihiser?

    Or Sam Dresser?

    (again… these names and emails are all available publicly online)

    Talents and skills, but not for the positions that they hold. No discernible background in executive management position(s) dealing with operations or significant issues affecting the owners…..

    To have to sit through a systems call and hear the CEO infer that the “incredible growth” that the system has experienced during her tenure is due to her efforts but that it’s “not their job to make you successful” and then in the same breath spout off a bunch of numbers that are not accurate is truly painful. One minute the owners are praised but then the next minute she completely makes her statement null an void with statements to the effect of “but, look what I did”. It’s truly disheartening.

    Sterling and the School of Rock board are silent. We need some answers from them. We’re at least entitled to that for the exorbitant fees that we pay. Answers and solutions are what we need, for as much as the owners step up with workable solutions each and every time, they are shot down by Ms. Homan even though she says this is a “democracy.

    And still no response to the questions about the behavior in the office……

    C’mon Sterling…C’mon Board Members….how long are you going to be silent and let this continue? At least acknowledge that you are aware……

  • June 12, 2017 at 12:38 am

    All of these criticisms lack any shred of credibility, because the poster of the criticisms chooses to remain anonymous. This is much like an appearance of a conflict of interest is in itself a conflict of interest.
    You may as well remain silent if you don’t have the conviction and the courage to put your name to your statements.

    “Cyber bullies can hide behind a mask of anonymity online, and do not need direct physical access to their victims to do unimaginable harm.” – Anna Maria Chavez

    These comments have some common threads and statements that indicate these to be from the same individual. How would we know otherwise? There also appears to be some personal retribution associated with them. I think I know who this is.

    “It’s not fair that the accused is not protected from adverse publicity whilst the accuser is guaranteed anonymity, whatever the verdict.”
    – Jonathan King

    Why not go through the appropriate channels to make a difference? Only negatives can result from anonymously posting negatives about others. Perhaps what you say is true, false, or partially true and false. It doesn’t matter, because responsible persons will recognize the lack of credibility.

    “Social media’s greatest assets – anonymity, ‘virality,’ interconnectedness – are also its main weaknesses.”
    – Evgeny Morogov

    If you are afraid of retribution for speaking out, you should know that kind of response would be unlawful. You are protected by law from retribution for telling the truth.

    “For every credibility gap there is a gullibility gap.” – Richard Cobden

    Because of your anonymity, it is not possible to believe that your comments are truthful. Rather, they appear to be directed for the express purpose of maliciously defaming and injuring one person.

    If your statement are true, then it is unfortunate. I for one am not buying the words of someone who lacks the integrity and courage to put their name behind it.

  • June 12, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    Bob Gustavson:

    My name is Sean Kelly and I’m the publisher of this site. I appreciate the fact that you took the time to read the posts, and that you posted reasonable points. I disagree with you and will share my views and readers can make up their own minds. That is how America and democracy should work, and I am more proud of our country than ever now that I’ve seen firsthand the protections in place for freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of anonymous speech.

    In 1979, the FTC put regulations in place intended to make sure people who bought franchises would have access to the candid opinions and experiences of those who had bought and operated the same franchise. Franchisors are required to give prospective franchisees contact info for all current and recent franchisees for that reason. Unfortunately, the FTC has no resources to oversee and enforce these regulations. Franchisor attorneys and their firms have developed extraordinary legal clauses and bullying techniques to thwart the FTC’s intentions and silence anyone who would warn others that the company’s sales propaganda may not be accurate. Often franchisees will face threats of financial devastation if they are caught speaking out – regardless of whether the allegations are true or not.

    You imply that the franchisees who are speaking out here are cowards. I submit that they are courageous to stand up and speak their minds and share their experiences and opinions. The fact that they do so anonymously shows, in my opinion, that they are smart. Making oneself an easy target in a rigged system isn’t good warfare. The Minutemen beat the Redcoats by hiding behind trees and bushes, not by dressing in red and standing out in the open.

    Sean Kelly is my real name and I’m doing what you say they should do. I’ve been sued twice by bullying franchisors and been served with subpoenas to give up commenters names. I’ve been slandered, threatened, had lies published about me on dedicated websites. Now I’m being threatened by Sterling Partner’s/School of Rock attorney who says I will be raked through the mud with someone else’s financial and personal records if I don’t give in to them. I will be buried with a lawsuit from a top franchise industry and a huge private equity firm.

    And why? because I allowed franchisees to post their opinions, which is my constitutionally protected right.

    I invite you to put take another look at the real culprits here – those who are too cowardly to even address or refute whether these allegations have merit and instead choose to bully, attack and intimidate small business owners – like me, Sean Kelly – because they believe that might makes right and that freedom of speech is a right reserved for those with the deepest pockets and those with the biggest baddest lawyers.

    I appreciate your willingness to join the conversation and look forward to your response.

    Sean Kelly

  • June 12, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    Thank you for responding to my comment, Sean. I get your points, and I respect your courageous values. However, I have seen people become the victims of anonymous comments, as an anonymous forum allows malicious behavior and untruthfulness to be manifest without recourse for the innocent accused. My simple question for you is: How do you know that commenters on your forum are being 100% truthful and in the correct full context? I think your response will be that you can’t try to make that distinction. You are simply posting other’s opinions.

    I totally agree that freedom of speech is one of the most valuable rights that we celebrate, but when one doesn’t know who is speaking, and there is no supporting evidence for what they are saying, doesn’t it just become potentially damaging hearsay that lacks the requisite credibility? Freedom of Speech was not intended to be anonymous.

    Take care-

    Bob Gustavson

  • June 12, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    Actually, Bob, I didn’t realize how important the protection of anonymous speech has been regarded throughout our history until I had to research it to defend this site. The protection of anonymous speech goes back to Colonial times when people were printing their political views on hand bills and authors could have been charged with sedition and hanged.

    Personally, I don’t think someone should base their franchise buying decision on a single complaint or even a group of complaints, especially anonymous complaints that are hard to follow up on or verify. I think the value is for a prospective franchisee to use the complaints as a way to identify important issues that they can follow up on as part of their own due diligence. If you are putting your house, IRAs, savings, childrens’ futures on the line don’t act on what some blog publisher has to say or anonymous commenters, even if they seem credible. And don’t take the word of some commissioned sales guy just because he says the complainers are a bunch of whiners who didn’t follow the system but you, Mr. & Mrs. Prospect, you are special… you won’t kill the success fairy with bad thoughts like they did.

    There are ways to see who is credible and who is not. Dzana Homan stated in her defensive email that School of Rock hired and have on staff two full-time music directors whose sole job is to develop curriculum for the franchise system. Franchisees said that the two music directors she’s referring to work full-time in company stores and are available only to answer questions if owners call in. I asked Dzana Homan for the names and she never answered. Either there are or their aren’t.

    I knew nothing about School of Rock a few weeks ago. I’ve worked most of my 25+ years on the franchisor side and know that blaming others for one’s own failures is a basic human trait. I’m skeptical of both sides at first in any dispute. But when a bunch of franchisees claim the franchisor and its owner don’t care about their concerns and have a bullying approach… then they refuse repeatedly to address their franchisees’ concerns and bully and threaten the guy offering the forum to clarify or rebut… gotta say I tend to lend some credence to the indifference/bullying allegations… from my personal experience.

    Sean Kelly

    PS Something occurred to me today while I was drafting my complaint to the PA Bar Association about Craig Tractenberg. I couldn’t understand why he acted like his threat was so powerful. I really don’t have skeletons in my closet. I had a bankruptcy ten years ago (5 fewer than the president) and some other guy posted that like 4 years ago and I didn’t care. I have no arrest record, no divorce records (as he claimed) and have already posted any litigation. Yet there’s another guy with the same name, about the same age in my area. He has divorced records and at least one DUI. I get collection calls and always have to compare SS#s. Tractenberg may have dug up lots of dirt on the wrong Sean Kelly, told Sterling Partners he really had the goods and they gave him the go-ahead. If I were Rick Elfman and Sterling Partners and that turns out to be the case, I’d tell Craig Tractenberg where to put his $30K+ invoice.

  • June 13, 2017 at 10:10 am

    Reading through all of these posts, I think any objective reader can see why employees and staff do not speak up against School of Rock leaders or Sterling directly. If they will commission a lawyer like Tractenberg to go after a public figure, imagine what they will do to an employee or owner who doesn’t have the resources to defend themselves? We already know what happens. Employees quit (all you have to do is search LinkedIN to review some of the previous School of Rock employees in the past 3 years). Owners sell or do not renew their franchises. It’s an easy transition for unhappy employees to find alternate employment, for owners, they are stuck until the franchise agreement runs out. All of us desperately need help to fix the system, we’ve tried having direct discussions, tried communicating in many different ways. The reality is, time marches on, nothing changes, and we have no voice. This forum is the best we’ve got.

  • June 13, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    BOB G.
    I felt that way until it happened to me !
    Hopefully this will prevent it happening to you…
    And the comments are all true – eventually the TRUTH WILL PREVAIL.

  • June 13, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    Dear Bob Gustavson
    If you have any commentary to the contrary with direct knowledge of the situation, please post it.
    If you are a franchisee that has had a different experience with this management team, please post it.
    If neither of these apply to you, you really don’t know what you are talking about.

    If anyone’s actual name was used on this site, they would lose their franchise in under 3 months.
    If you haven’t lived through it…you dont know.


  • June 14, 2017 at 8:38 am

    And it looks like 3 GMs from company schools are in the process of leaving, and another Goddard expatriate has just been hired in a senior staff position in charge of franchise development. Conditions continue to get worse and the School of Rock Board and Sterling Partners don’t engage, except to send in their attorneys.

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