FORT PIERCE, Fla. — A Treasure Coast Christian school is firing back after a former employee filed a lawsuit against it last week.
The headmaster of St. James Christian Academy says contrary to what the lawsuit claims, its former human resources director James Brower was never fired, he quit.
Headmaster Donnelyn Khourie said she's disappointed by Brower's actions.
"It's heartbreaking. Here's why, because for the students and the children, we’ve now moved into a media spectacle," said Khourie.
Serving more than 700 students at multiple campuses on the Treasure Coast and Okeechobee, headmaster Khourie said as HR director Brower approached her about many issues, but not the allegations listed in the lawsuit.
"In HR there’s always going to be issues, but the issues in the allegations, they’re very, they’re extremely ludicrous. They’re ridiculous," said Khourie.
Brower claims the academy manipulated attendance numbers and grade changes for funding; Khourie said those allegations are not true and that the school is audited by the government and multiple institutions.
"We’ve been through every audit with flying colors, never have we said kids weren’t here, let's just take the money," said Khourie.
Khourie said Brower had tried to quit once before this year.
"In fact back in May he had actually quit and I pleaded with him, 'please don’t go' with a witness there we have all the affidavits," said Khourie.
Khourie claims this July he resigned and was not fired. Brower's attorney, Stuart Address, has provided documents showing Brower was approved for unemployment.
"We have him being granted unemployment without an appeal by the employer," said Address. "I would expect nothing other than denials at this point. If there weren’t denials they would have engaged me in settlement discussions pre-suit."
Brower's whistleblower lawsuit is seeking monetary damages. His attorney said once the case moves forward he will be submitting requests through discovery for payroll records and funding records.
The academy's attorney said he is waiting on being officially served with the complaint to file a response.