BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - On Tuesday, Bay Haven's CEO Larry Bolinger and the board's president Jon McFatter said the lawsuit recently filed against two school administrators was still active. However, an attorney for the school administrators paints a different picture.
"It's not the general practice of Bay Haven Charter Academy schools to comment on ongoing lawsuits or things of that nature," said Bolinger. "However, with some inaccurate information that was shared yesterday was felt like we needed to go ahead and make sure that we put the facts forward and set the record straight. What has happened is that the other parties have agreed or stipulated that they are not going to pursue any action or anything that happened prior to February 26th, which is part of their original agreement. So, we're very pleased that they are going to honor their original agreement. Number two the injunction will stay in place just to ensure that they will continue to live up to their obligations."
Bolinger says the school's lawsuit against North Bay Haven Principal Michelle Gainer and Assistant Principal Erin Harper is still active. The school sued the two administrators in April, claiming an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint filed by Gainer and Harper in March violated a February agreement which led to the resignation of Bay Haven CEO Dr. Tim Kitts.
"The EEOC complaint to my understanding had actually two parts," said Bolinger. "One was about information or action taken prior to February 26th and again that's off the table now and we're very pleased with that..There are still some incidences or allegations that are after February 26th and those will just take their natural course at this time."
In an email Tuesday, Gainer and Harper's attorney Jim Garrity fired back, saying, "Ms. Gainer and Ms. Harper signed their first EEOC charges of discrimination on March 7, 2016, and a second round of charges April 14, 2016. None were filed before the agreements were signed on February 26, and all assert claims relating to events after that date. The first charges were emailed to Bay Haven’s senior management on March 7, the day they were signed. From that date until Saturday, April 23, when both principals were served with the lawsuits at home, we had no word or hint of a planned lawsuit by the schools against the principals. And, if the school was genuinely confused about the charges or their scope, it never expressed that confusion to me or to the two principals."
A stipulation in the case dated May 19, shows bay haven agreeing the March EEOC complaint didn't violate the February agreement. Current Bay Haven Board President Jon McFatter says the school tried to avoid the April lawsuit.
"We have documented that we reached out to Mr. Garrity as many as three times and have gotten no response," said McFatter.
Garrity says that's simply untrue, he said, "I have gone back through my email exchanges with the school following the filing of the March charges, and found roughly a dozen emails in March and April 2016 with (former BHCA board president) Jeremy Hatcher and with its counsel. (Emails to its counsel were sent or received on March 11, twice on March 21, once on March 31 and once on April 1. Email exchanges with Mr. Hatcher took place three times on March 7, and once on March 10. All these were prior to the lawsuit, which court records show was filed April 15.) Garrity adds his clients will continue to aggressively pursue their legal rights."
Bolinger put Gainer and Harper on paid administrative leave back in April. He says they will stay on leave until the investigation into the March EEOC complaint is complete. There's no timetable on when that may be.