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SCHOOL OF ROCK Franchise, Sterling Partners CEO Controversy: UPDATED (Topic Index)

If one wished to hire professionals to create a real life case study on how NOT to handle public criticism, one could likely find no better Dream Team than Sterling Partners’ Rick Elfman, School of Rock CEO Dzana Homan, and Fox Rothschild attorney Craig Tractenberg.  School of Rock franchise owners claim that they are threatened and bullied by School of Rock management.  When UnhappyFranchisee.Com published the complaints and reached out to private equity parent Sterling Partners, the website publisher became the target of this company’s bullying and intimidation tactics.

(UnhappyFranchisee.Com)   Here is the timeline, overview, and index of links to the fast-moving School of Rock, Sterling Partners controversy.

Timeline of the School of Rock, Sterling Partners Franchise Controversy

Here’s a quick timeline as of 6/14/17.  Corresponding links & detailed overview follow below:

Wednesday 5/24/17 – We posted anonymous complaints from School of Rock franchisees.  We invited School of Rock & CEO Dzana Homan respond.

SCHOOL OF ROCK Franchise Complaints

Thursday 5/25/17 – We posted complaints alleging CEO Homan is an abusive CEO who makes racist & discriminatory comments.  We again invited SoR & Homan for response or rebuttal.

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

Friday  5/26/17 – We published the defiant email Dzana Homan sent to franchisees the previous day.  Homan denied that there is a problem and dismissed the complaints as being from a single franchisee or handful of franchisees.  We disputed some of the assertions she made in her email and assured readers that we had heard from a significant number of franchisees.  We again contacted School of Rock and Sterling Partners to engage in the dialogue on UnhappyFranchisee.Com

SCHOOL OF ROCK Dzana Homan Responds to Franchise Complaints

Monday 5/29/17 – We emailed a list of 13 Questions to CEO Dzana Homan to give her a chance to address the most serious and disturbing allegations.  We copied her assistant (as always) to make sure she received them and had a chance to respond.  We received no response or acknowledgement.

Tuesday 5/30/17 – We published our emailed message to CEO Dzana Homan.  We invited Sterling Partners executives including managing partner Rick Elfman to respond.  Franchisees reported that a scheduled call between Homan and franchisees was cancelled due to senior management being in an “urgent meeting.”

SCHOOL OF ROCK Franchise CEO Dzana Homan Faces Tough Questions

Friday 6/2/17 – Unhappy Franchisee publisher Sean Kelly emailed Sterling Partners’ Rick Elfman and other executives (Kim Vendar Moffat, Justin Marku, Michael Brown) requesting a brief phone interview to get Sterling Partner’s side of the story.  He gets no response.

Tuesday 6/6/17 – UF Publisher Sean Kelly receives a threatening phone call from attorney and Fox Rothschild partner Craig Tractenberg.  Tractenberg states that he represents School of Rock & Dzana Homan and demands that all complaints & content regarding SoR be removed from UnhappyFranchisee.Com.  Tractenberg states that they have uncovered much damaging information on Kelly including financial, bankruptcy, litigation and divorce records that will be made public if Tractenberg’s demands aren’t met.  In addition to smearing his reputation, he threatens to crush Kelly under a massive lawsuit.

Wednesday 6/7/17 – Kelly published a post detailing Tractenberg’s call and threats

School of Rock Attorney Craig Tractenberg Threatens Unhappy Franchisee Publisher

Thursday 6/8/17 – Kelly published the first of several press releases concerning the bullying and threats by Tractenberg, Sterling Partners & School of Rock

Attorney Craig Tractenberg Threatens Web Publisher (Press Release)

Friday  6/9/17 – Kelly sent an open letter (by email and publication) to Sterling Partners’ Rick Elfman informing him that he will not give in to the illegal and unethical threats made to him by Attorney Craig Tractenberg.  Kelly promised a very strong and public response to further aggression by his company.  Kelly wanted to give Sterling Partners every opportunity to withdraw its threat and apologize.  Again, no response.

Open Letter to Rick Elfman and Sterling Partners

Tuesday 6/13/17 – Kelly wonders if Tractenburg’s been nursing a grudge since 2014 when he rebuffed the attorney’s threats on behalf of his tax-cheating client Nick Papanier, Sr. of Primohoagies.  Kelly also wonders if Tractenburg’s threat to release his divorce records (Kelly’s never been divorced) Tractenberg’s threat of releasing divorce records (when Kelly’s never been divorced) might indicate that the Super Lawyer dug up dirt on the wrong Sean Kelly.

Is STERLING PARTNERS Funding a Craig Tractenberg Vendetta?

Wednesday 6/14/17 – UF Publisher Sean Kelly files a formal complaint against Fox Rothschild attorney Craig Tractenberg with The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Craig Tractenberg Complaint Submitted to Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of PA

Thursday 6/15/17  –  Sean Kelly asked:

How Do Craig Tractenberg’s Irresponsible Tactics Benefit Clients?

Friday 6/16/17 – Sterling Partners General Counsel Avi Epstein states that neither Sterling Partners nor School of Rock authorized or knew about Tractenberg’s threats.

Sterling Partners Claims Tractenberg NOT Authorized to Threaten Publisher

 CEO Dzana Homan OUT, Rob Price IN as School of Rock CEO. Friday, 6/30/17

School of Rock Names Rob Price CEO Amid Dzana Homan Controversy

Rob Price has been named the new CEO of School of Rock effective July 7, 2017.  According to SoR Chairman of the Board David Zucker, Dzana Homan will be pursuing “other opportunities” after her last day on June 30, 2017.

Check This Page for Updates on the School of Rock CEO Controversy

We have established this page as a chronological index of posts concerning this growing and significant controversy. We plan to update this page as the controversy unfolds, and add links to it as more is learned and more posts are published. If the franchisee complaints are true and valid, we hope to report in the future that Dzana Homan and/or School of Rock parent Sterling Partners were proactive and transparent in remedying the situation and protecting their franchisee’s investments. If the franchisee complaints are proven invalid, we will be happy to report that Ms. Dzana Homan was treated unfairly and has been exonerated. Please share your views and insights on this and/or other discussion pages.

DISCLAIMER & INVITATION:  Views and statements are those of the comment authors and do not necessarily reflect Unhappy Franchisee or its staff.   Unhappy Franchisee provides a forum for all sides of this issue to state their opinions and debate the facts.  We extend an open invitation 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.



Craig Tractenberg also threatened UnhappyFranchisee in 2014:

PRIMOHOAGIES & Nick Papanier Tax Evasion: A Clarification

PRIMOHOAGIES Owner of Nellie’s Provisions Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud [Updated]


TAGS: Craig Tractenberg, Fox Rothschild, Dzana Homan, CEO Dzana Homan, School of Rock, School of Rock franchise, School of Rock franchise complaints, Sterling Partners, Rick Elfman, franchise bullying, franchise complaints,

9 thoughts on “SCHOOL OF ROCK Franchise, Sterling Partners CEO Controversy: UPDATED (Topic Index)

  • Embarrassed

    I would really like it if the CEO and the Sterling Board spent as much effort marketing this business and elevating the brand awareness as they do marketing the CEO. So many of these articles are truly cringe-worthy in that much of it is hyperbole and flat-out falsehoods.
    I have complete faith that if we are able to get a new CEO and new management team that is truly interested in partnering with the owners and the independent franchisee association, we can right the ship and turn things around. There is some incredible talent in the system.

  • Hoping For Change

    The complaints being filed are not from “handful” of owners…. they are from a large group of owners who, upon the announcement of Ms. Homan as our CEO, were hopeful that our struggles and issues would be addressed and our situations improved. We had faith that Sterling had made the right choice and School of Rock would move forward in a positive way. For a while that seemed the case. But when the initial “honeymoon” phase was over it became quite clear that our troubles were not over and, in fact, would multiply rapidly. Despite being warned by many owners, new franchise agreements were being signed only to find that these owners were looking for buyers within months of opening. The actual amount of money it takes to open a school along with the complete lack of meaningful support were only a few of the reasons for new owners wanting to sell.

    Stories of Ms. Homan’s behavior in the office have been spread throughout the system, so the statements that were posted are no surprise, as we have heard those stories and many more. Sterling allows Ms. Homan to treat us like children and Ms. Homan allows her staff to follow suit. The high fees we pay should, at the very least, enable Sterling to hire a CEO that will work together with owners, listen to the real issues and be a sincere advocate for the brand rather than have an “it’s all about me” attitude. Clearly Sterling, Ms. Homan and her staff do not respect us as owners and business men/women who have invested a lot of blood, sweat and tears and have a passion for this business. Changes need to be made.

  • Ms Homan must go she has created a hostile and confrontational environment here. The comments made by others especially the racist and comments about the Asian women and pregnant women are all true. She knows it and so does the board. Complaints were made back them by employees. Nothing was done. There are many owners who agree the she needs to be replaced but are afraid to speak up. She truly doesn’t care about the franchisees or this culture we created here before she arrived. So many talented and passionate people were forced out by her that it is sickening. She is messing with people’s lives and their life savings. And she doesn’t give a damn. She has no skin in the game. She says she wants to work with the owners but shuts them down at every turn. She is toxic. Enough is enough. She has to go.

  • Do The Right Thing

    Been sitting on the sidelines a bit…but wanted to chime in. This business is probably one of the most personally fulfilling businesses to own. We make a little bit of money, can pay our bills, and have a great positive impact on hundreds of kids and their families.
    Our CEO seems like she does everything she can to suck the joy out of this business and she does little to try to help us grow.
    The owners seem to spend in inordinate amount of time doing unproductive things like submitting separate P&Ls that add nothing to the our bottom line, but they get done because if you don’t you get a notice of default letter).
    I am very curious to know if Sterling and the School of Rock Board did any real due diligence on her before they hired her. From what I gather , she did not have the greatest reputation at Goddard, and they are still recovering from her tenure there. But now that they know how bad it is, I am hopeful that they will did into these issues and draw the only legitimate conclusion…that she must go, and a proper senior management team be put into place. The existing owners have far greater expertise in this business than the senior management team.
    So Rick Elfman and Sterling Partners, do the right thing and cut her loose. You all should be embarrassed that you allow her to continue to do this to our business. Or sell to someone who is willing to do the right thing. Because right now, you no longer have our support. Save your reputations and our business.

  • Do The Right Thing

    A follow up…we had a system call where Dzana went on and on about how her actions achieved growth for the company, but the company schools are growing at 2% and the franchisee schools are growing at 20%. Pretty sure the dedicated owners had a lot to do with that, since many don’t even have a franchise business consultant to talk to. The owners share a lot of great information with each other, and that helps immensely, including the independent franchisee association that was set up by the owners.
    She stated something along the lines of ‘the franchisor is not responsible for making the franchisees successful’. That was an interesting revelation. What are we paying 11% back to them for? There is very little national brand marketing; opportunities brought to them are squandered. The marketing lead comes from a brick and mortar retail background, and the firm they use for graphics etc,. Upbrands, does not seem to grasp what the business is about and what the target market is.
    Our CEO adds nothing to the brand and her senior team has little sense of what it takes to run a school from the owner side. All Sterling needs to do is ask the owners what we need. We can get this all sorted out.

  • Concerns Falling on Deaf Ears

    It’s clear Sterling is sticking with their strategy to continue to ignore the pleas of owners and staff to address the issues. They are hoping this will blow over and they can continue to extort owners and provide little value for fees. Failure to act shows how little the investor cares about their investment and stakeholders. It’s Time to oust the CEO and replace her with someone who a) has relevant business experience b) knows how to build a successful and thriving Franchise Organization, and c) has the leadership skills and vision to take School of Rock to the next level. We’re one story away from a publicity disaster as rumours and first hand accounts of erratic and inappropriate behavior of Dzana Homan build into a frenzy. Complaints have been filed, concerns have been raised, but nothing changes.

  • Fight Fight Fight


  • Dzana Homan Survivor

    From a Former Coworker of Dzana Homan:

    I would like to anonymously comment on the Dzana Homan article.

    I had the misfortunate of working with Dzana Homan in a previous position. To say she is an abusive CEO is an understatement. Any company thinking of hiring her should RUN the other way. She should come with a warning sign: Egotistical, power hungry, mean spirited, unethical fake with a degree in bs (and I don’t mean a bachelor of science).

    The woman is a con artist with a very nasty nature to boot.

    There is one thing Dzana should be concerned with: Karma.

  • I own a music teaching service and was always interested in how the school operates in relation to any kind of coordinated curriculum. I was also interested in how to get around doing all these shows without paying any royalties. In my view, the school of rock gets the kids around town that can already play ( because of teachers like me) and features them in the house band. My students who also go to the school of rock never seem to bring home any assignments. I would consider operating a franchise but they need to address the curriculum first and of course some of these issues about support, bullying and a whole host of other things. Thank you for clarifying some of my suspicions.

    Michael Violette
    String Sound Studios

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