LAWSUIT St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church Kicks School Out Over Facemask Policy
Boynton Beach Private School’s Future In Jeopardy Over Controversial Facemask Policy
BOYNTON BEACH, FL – Boca Post (BocaPost.com) — A Boynton Beach private school claims that the academic futures of 175 students are in jeopardy now that the church is refusing to renew the school’s lease; school claims the fallout stems from the church disagreeing with its facemask policy.
According to a lawsuit filed this week by Saint Joseph’s Episcopal School against Saint Joseph’s Episcopal Church; The school claims the church is refusing to renew its lease after a fallout between church and school leaders regarding facemask policies.
Saint Joseph’s Episcopal School is a private school in Boynton Beach that has roughly 175 students enrolled in grades from pre-k to 8th. The school itself has been there since 1958; the church since 1953. Boynton Beach citizens tell Boca Post that the church and school are iconic to the area.
William Swaney, former president of Perrigo Co., has been an extremely generous donor to the church and the school since he moved to the area in the 1980s. Swaney has been very generous to the church and says over the last 30 years he has given more than $10,000,000 dollars.
The lawsuit claims a verbal agreement existed between the church and the school that Swaney exchanged 5,000 shares of Perrigo stock, at the time valued at $52/share, totaling $2.6M, for a guarantee that the Church could not displace the church for at least 99 years. Swaney was responsible for major upgrades at the school including a gymnasium, library, classrooms, administrative offices, and more.
The school had a lease from the school; however, the two separate entities considered it a celebratory lease in that the school only paid $5/year for rent.
Now, Swaney is suing the church for $5,000,000 in damages. More pressing, the 14 count complaint includes a request for an emergency injunction to stop the church from kicking the school out.
Covid changed everything for Swaney and the church. Like the rest of the country, the school shut down in March of 2020 and offered virtual-only education as part of the nationwide school closures. As restrictions eased, so did the school policies. For the rest of the 2020-2021 school year, the school remained fully open with a mask-optional policy.
The 2021-2022 school year brought a mask optional policy across the school. Swaney says that the school vehemently disagreed and wanted to force facemasks on everyone.
“Church leaders sent upsetting emails to, and/or participated in hurtful conversations with, Mr. Swaney, Mr. Aubrey, and others expressing their beliefs that Mr. Swaney and others did not value the lives of the students.”, says the lawsuit.
Swaney believes that “Father Marty” and church leaders hold animosity and resentment over the mask issue and are refusing to sign a new lease with the school because of it.
With news of the school potentially closing, other schools in the area are allegedly poaching students, hosting special open houses catering to the students. Parents are scrambling to make alternate arrangements for their children in case the church is successful in destroying the school, according to Swaney.
The entire complaint can be found on Boca Post:
LAWSUIT St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church Gives School The Boot Over Facemask Policy