Bradenton teachers owed 4 months pay

5:31 PM, Jun 22, 2010   |    comments
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Bradenton, Florida - The school year ended three weeks ago and several dozen Bradenton teachers are still waiting to be paid.

"I'm owed $25,000, "says Cheryl Gaynor, Bradenton Prep's Math Department Head.

"In wages and medical bills, just under $10,000," says Holly Thomson, former Bradenton Prep teacher.

"I'm owed waged $21,000," says Elizabeth Davies, Bradenton Prep's art teacher.

These women say teaching isn't about the money, but like any job they expect to get paid. "We're not trying to destroy the school, we just want to get paid," says Cheryl.

The women represent three of about 20 Bradenton Prep teachers who say they have not been paid since February 15,  and about another 20 are also owed money.

"I feel they're holding us emotionally and financially hostage," adds Cheryl.

The teachers thought despite non-payment or bounced checks, they at least had their health insurance. "I got a letter in the mail saying health insurance had been canceled, says Elizabeth, a single mother.

Holly quit earlier in the year after several paychecks didn't clear. Then she learned her health insurance lapsed but, not for non-payment on her part.  

"The checks we did get when we were still getting checks taking the health insurance out were not paying the company. So we were paying them for coverage we weren't covered," explains Holly.

Cheryl and Holly have thousands of dollars in medical bills. "We've dipped into our money market and retirement fund," explains Cheryl. While Cheryl says now she should have quit earlier, but didn't. "We didn't want to let down the students and the parents," says Cheryl.

The teachers say the school's financial problems worsened when school's chief executive officer Hendrik Lamprecht stepped in. We tried speaking to him. Lamprecht hid behind a wall inside the school's office so his picture would not be taken. He said he'd speak to 10 Connects only if we made an appointment.

The teachers say Bradenton Prep has had a school year filled with financial troubles, from unpaid bills, to lenders suing to foreclosure and the building is up for auction July 2, and that may not be all. The teachers say if they're not paid by June 30 they'll file a class action suit.

"They need to pay us. Stop being so dishonest, they're ruining teachers' lives," says Elizabeth.

"I've never spoken against a school before, but there's nothing else I can do. I need my money. I need closure to go on," says Cheryl. While Cheryl says she enjoyed working with the other teachers and would like to return to teach at Bradenton Prep, she won't under these circumstances. "I can't go if I'm not being paid. I can't keep being an involuntary volunteer."

The school's CEO has agreed to speak with 10 Connects next week. 

Isabel Mascarenas

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