Glendale charter school owner accused of not paying his teachers

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A former principal of Discovery Community School, a charter school in Glendale, said he has not been paid thousands of dollars for his work.

Jim Lee accuses the school’s owner, Banipal Benjamin, of not paying him $25,000.

Discovery opened in August 2011.

“I was there one year. I helped him open the school with the promise he would pay me after the school opened he would pay me for my time I put in,” said Lee.

Kathy Simmons, a former teacher at the school, said she's waiting for a paycheck too.

“He didn't pay us on April 16th and he told us ahead of time. All of the teachers stayed and worked for free,” said Simmons.

Benjamin, who has a background in engineering and business, admits his school is having financial difficulties, but claims he doesn't owe Lee any money,

“If he wanted to get paid, he should have signed a contract and come to an agreement. We had no agreement,” said Benjamin.

Benjamin showed 3TV a letter to his staff asking them to wait until August for their April paycheck.

As for Simmons, Benjamin said he doesn't owe her a dime.

“We did pay them. Up to the last day that they worked. We did pay them,” said Benjamin. 

“Moving forward it's going to be different. I have a financial adviser to fix our budget,” said the charter school owner.

Another former principal filed a complaint against the school with the state's charter board.

Benjamin has until June to respond to the state.

“The owner does not have any experience running a school. He should have not ever received a charter from the state in my experience,” said Lee.

The school is in the process of relocating from Glendale to Phoenix.