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Bradenton Prep teachers demand back pay

6:40 PM, Jul 9, 2010   |    comments
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Bradenton, Florida -- Mary Conway estimates her former employer, Bradenton Preparatory Academy, owes her about $23,000 in back pay.

She's among about 20 teachers at the fiscally-woed school who claim they haven't been paid since February.

"We worked all the way to the end even though we hadn't been paid, because we didn't want to abandon the students.  I had seniors I was afraid wouldn't graduate if I wasn't there to support them," Conway told 10 Connects.

On the last day of school, she says she was asked not to return. She believes her persistence for a paycheck was the reason.

"I would never wish anyone ill will, we just want our pay," she said.

Previous Story: Bradenton teachers owed 4 months pay

Conway and the other teachers say they were told by the school's current CEO, Henrik Lamprecht, they would recieve their back pay on June 30. The day came and went, without payment.

"Most of us have money on our credit cards. We've borrowed from our families, we've had to go into our retirement and we have penalties, fees, because we do not meet the requirement and age to pull it out," she explained.

For some teachers, the financial situation is worse.

"There's people that are struggling to try and stay in their homes.  They don't have food for their children because they don't have any money to buy groceries.  It's been hard on everybody," Conway said.

We went to Bradenton Prep's campus at 40th Avenue West for a scheduled 10 a.m. interview with Lamprecht.

Despite our appointment, he was not happy to see us, grabbing the photojournalist's camera and hitting him on the back of the head. He later apologized to the photojournalist, telling him he's fed up with everything that's been thrown his way.

A school representative later told us they called to cancel the interview on Thursday, but the message went to the voice mail of someone who is out of town.

Lamprecht has only been at the school since late last year.

Edwin Mulock, an attorney working with Lamprecht, tells 10 Connects in a statement, "I know he's working very hard to get everything stabilized at the school.  He is working every day to get issues resolved so the school can  move on and continue to be successful."

Bradenton Prep's 40th Avenue West property went into foreclosure and was bought back by the bank, GTE Federal Credit Union,  in an auction a few weeks ago.

GTE Federal Credit Union representative Shamus McConomy tells 10 Connects they won't be operating the school in the fall and as of now, there are no agreements with the previous owners to continue operating the school on the property and that an agreement is unlikely.

McConomy says the foreclosure was not something they rushed into. 

"We went to the end of the earth to work things out," he said.

The bank's ownership of the property does not become official until the certificate of title is turned over.  Law requires about two weeks to pass after auction day before the title is turned over to the new owner, giving the previous owners time to save the property.

McConomy says they expect to get the title by the end of this month.

A Bradenton Prep employee later came out to talk to us and said classes will resume in the next school year.

There are still numerous liens on the property, including liens by the IRS. An attorney representing the school on its financial issues did not return our calls on Friday.

Conway tells 10 Connects  she and the other teachers have been left with no other choice, but to file suit. She says they are in the process of hiring an attorney so they can file a class action lawsuit.

But, even as they fight to get their money, Conway says what hurts most is not being able to see her students again.

"I'll miss them terribly," she said, "They're wonderful, they really are." 

Laura Kadechka, 10 Connects

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