By Courtney Gousman
St. Charles County, MO (KSDK) - We are learning more about what caused a St. Charles County catholic high school to be forced out of its building. NewsChannel 5 discovered Barat Academy stopped making rent payments last year, launching a legal battle that's been playing out in court since January.
According to court documents filed in St. Charles County, Barat Academy owes more than $217,000 to a private company by the name of CP-SPE, LLC that took over the school's title after the bank holding the school's loan, when under. Documents indicate Barat Academy was issued a court order to give up rights to the school building in June.
It's a $17 million property now up for sale. The building that used to house Barat Academy has been in the midst of a court battle for months. It began when the school stopped making rent payments in November 2010.
"They were notified to continue to make payments and they ceased and did not," said Mary Sawyer, spokeswoman for CP-SPE, LLC.
Sawyer says CP-SPE took over Barat Academy's title after Premiere Bank went under. In May 2010, the school signed a 13 month lease with the company to the tune of $25,000 a month. When the school stopped making payments, the company took matters to court. In June, a judge ruled Barat Academy must pay back the $217,000 owed in back-rent and interest, plus vacate the school property. The agreement was signed by the school's president.
"We were disappointed to see they were representing it as something that was a surprise to them. They had agreed upon doing this," Sawyer said.
"When that bank failed, things economically started to take on a new twist for us that we've been working diligently on over the last few months to try to solve," said Debby Watson, President of Barat Academy, on Wednesday at a prayer vigil put together by Barat Academy supporters.
Watson said the school was still fighting to get that building back.
"We have given our offers five times," she said.
But a spokesperson for CP-SPE said, "Any offers that have come in have been far below the relevant price the academy should be worth, and that financing has not been in place."
Watson said the Academy still owes CP-SPE more than $217,000 in back rent and interest, and doesn't think it's likely the school will get this building back.
"I think they have a lot of obstacles to overcome before that would happen," Sawyer said.
NewsChannel 5 did reach out to Barat Academy leaders, as well as attorneys for the school, on Thursday, but we're still waiting for a response. On Wednesday, school leaders said they will be having school in the fall, and are considering alternate locations.