Wilberforce University is be sued for more than $3 million.

JUST IN: Local university sued for more than $3M for construction work

A Washington, D.C. development firm has filed a more than $3-million lawsuit against a Dayton-area college.

JayCee Development filed a lawsuit in United States District Court in Dayton on Tuesday against Wilberforce University, claiming that the school owes it money for construction work dating back to 2015.

JayCee completed some updates to campus buildings in 2015 at a cost of more than $1.1 million, according to the lawsuit. Then Wilberforce University again asked the company to “perform substantial additional work” on student residence halls, the lawsuit states.

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The development company agreed to perform the residence hall work, despite still being owed more than $1.1 million for its previous work, according to the lawsuit. Letters attached to the lawsuit show that the university intended to sell its King Building to JayCee and lease it back in order to finance the construction work on the residence halls.

Despite assurances from school officials, JayCee claims in the lawsuit that the university only made a payment of $350,000 and did not enter into a sale/lease-back agreement for the King Building as discussed.

“JayCee ended up financing the entirety of the Phase 2 work itself and continues to carry the burden of that financing, which impairs its ability to grow its business,” the lawsuit states.

Wilberforce officials told JayCee that the reason the school could not pay the company was because it lacked “the funds to do so,” according to the lawsuit. This news organization has contacted a spokeswoman for the university for comment on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit is similar to one filed on May 29 by a local security company claiming the university owed it money.

In the May lawsuit filed in the civil division of the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, Moonlight Security Inc. claimed that Wilberforce University breached a contract and owes it $50,350 plus interest. Moonlight, which is based at 2710 Dryden Road in Moraine, provided the historically black college with security officers and equipment and uniforms to those employees.

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Wilberforce University — the oldest private historically black college — has had a history of financial problems.

Last year, the university implemented layoffs, furloughs and a 20 percent pay cut for employees. In November 2016 the school slashed $750,000 from its payroll budget in an attempt to right-size itself, then-president Herman Felton said at the time.

The university was at risk of losing its accreditation from mid-2014 through most of 2015, due to declining enrollment.

The school was issued a “show cause” order from the Higher Learning Commission that was later lifted in November 2015 after enrollment increased to around 650 students. If the college had lost its accreditation, its students would not be eligible for federal financial aid.

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