On Your Side Investigation: Dept. of Labor claims Springfield private school founder pocketed teacher retirement funds for vacations

Published: Dec. 29, 2022 at 6:42 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Following an On Your Side Investigation, a former private school founder now faces a lawsuit from the Department of Labor. She’s accused of using the money that is supposed to be going to teachers’ retirement funds for her expenses.

In April 2020, On Your Side told you about money problems at Perspectives Preparatory Academy, or PPA. It was a small private school in south Springfield that closed.

Now, court records from a lawsuit filed just this month accuse the founder of pocketing thousands of dollars and spending it on things like her son’s birthday party.

Courtney and Josh Ungaro started PPA. It was a nonprofit funded by grants and donors. In 2020, teachers told us paychecks would bounce, and sometimes they wouldn’t get paid. A few months later, the school closed.

Court documents read Courtney Ungaro operated the Perspectives Preparatory Academy SIMPLE IRA Plan. She was accused of pocketing teacher retirement contributions. Court documents read Ungaro used ‘employee salary contributions’ to ‘fund personal expenses including vacations, cars, clothing and a birthday party for her son.’

The Department of Labor wants Ungaro to pay it back. It’s a demand of $19,000. The Department of Labor is asking a judge to ban Ungaro from running an employee benefit plan.

A few months after we did the story about PPA, we told you about her opening a new therapy business in Branson, which is still operating.

Ungaro has not filed a response to the lawsuit.

Earlier this week, On Your Side, started reaching out to Ungaro, asking for an interview through emails, calls, and voicemails. We have not heard back.

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