Education

Some teachers at Lincoln Memorial Academy say they are owed money. They are suing

Six teachers are suing Lincoln Memorial Academy, its former principal Ed Hundley and other school officials for wages and benefits they say are owed, according to a complaint filed this week.

The six teachers — Gladys Sailes Houston, Dana L. Sackett, Darlene Proue, Kimberly Lough, Erina Munoz and Dana McCarthy — claim that Lincoln Memorial Academy owes them nearly $80,000 in wages and contributions into their retirement accounts.

In addition to the school and Hundley, the school’s former president and chief executive officer, the 6-page complaint also names the school’s former chief financial officer Cornelle Maxfield; Christine Dawson, chair of the board of directors; vice chair Christopher Czaia; and board directors Walter Presha and James Ward.

“They fulfilled the duties of their respective contracts as loyal employees of the school. They all worked the entire year,” the teachers’ attorney April Goodwin said Friday. “This is either gross malfeasance or misfeasance.”

Some of the six teachers still work at the school, which was taken over by the Manatee County School District in August.

Goodwin says she is in talks with other teachers from Lincoln, so there could be additional plaintiffs joining the suit.

The suit was filed less than three weeks after an administrative law judge ruled in favor of the school district’s revocation of the school’s charter, finding that the district acted in good faith to protect the students. Among the judge’s findings were that the school should have been able to pay its employees, its insurance and Florida Retirement System contributions, as well as for the students’ food deliveries and the water utility bill.

The total of wages and retirements owed each of the teachers, according to the complaint are as follows:

  • Houston, $10,582.83
  • Sackett, $24,406.82
  • Proue, $16,277.73
  • Lough, $9,723.85
  • Munoz, $8,218.19
  • McCarthy, $10,338.92

According to the complaint, in addition to not paying the teachers all of their contracted wages and retirement benefits, the school also owes the teachers for failing to give them raises they were due, “illegal and unauthorized payroll deductions” and failing to reimburse them for school-related expenses.

Meanwhile, a federal investigation remains underway into Lincoln Memorial Academy, Hundley and Maxfield, for potential crimes that include fraud, embezzlement, mail fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General has requested financial records and other documents from the school district as part of their investigation.

Jessica De Leon has been covering crime, courts and law enforcement for the Bradenton Herald since 2013. She has won numerous awards for her coverage including the Florida Press Club’s Lucy Morgan Award for In-Depth Reporting in 2016 for her coverage into the death of 11-year-old Janiya Thomas.
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