Lawsuit Alleges Fraud at Progressive Christian Academy | News
The former owner of Macon's Progressive Christian Academy has filed a lawsuit claiming that a Florida company defrauded her out of her school to turn it into a for-profit company.
Dr. Betty Tolbert, the academy's founder, filed the lawsuit in the Bibb County Superior Court last Thursday.
The lawsuit says Tolbert solicited the help of E.T. Strickland from a Florida company called Sunrise Enterprises, Inc. to assist her school with financial trouble.
Tolbert's lawyer, Lonzy Edwards, would not comment further on the lawsuit.
Sunrise Enterprises purchased the school in foreclosure for $200,000 in 2009, according to the Macon/Bibb County Board of Tax Assessors.
Last week, parents and staff at Progressive Christian raised questions about a Florida couple that is now running the school, saying that Christina and John Hawkins had criminal records.
They have not returned our phone calls. Nor has Strickland.
Also last week, investigators from a Georgia state agency came to Progressive Christian Academy to question staff members about "potential employee issues."
Georgia's Department of Early Care and Learning have not explained what they were looking for.
The Florida Department of Corrections told us that Hawkins who also goes by Christine Perera, was allowed into Georgia on her probation, but that upon hearing from the investigation in Georgia, has revoked her travel privileges and is requiring her to return to Florida.
Clarence Thomas, a Macon resident says its a shame this happened to the school where, under Tolbert's leadership, he says his children received a great education. "They put a great focus on education, but also insuring that these children were complete people."
A Bibb County judge has issued a restraining order against the Hawkins and their Florida company, pending a hearing on November 12th.