Sadie Dula checks the mail every day for the check she earned but knows probably never will arrive.
"Everyday when I open the mailbox I'm always hoping I'll have a check in there, but I don't," she says.
As the Indy reported in May, Dula was one of seven teachers at the Children's University of Chapel Hill who lost their jobs when the day care abruptly folded. CUCH owner Lisa McEntyre pocketed prepaid tuition checks from parents without paying teachers, according to investigations by the N.C. Employment Security Commission and N.C. Division of Child Development.
In April, Dula and her former colleagues each won separate judgments in Orange County small claims court stating that McEntyre owed them weeks of unpaid wages. Dula is due $2,334.99 for four missed paychecks in February and March.
The magistrate cautioned at the time that the ruling doesn't force McEntyre to pay; it simply acknowledges the debt.
McEntyre is on probation and serving a 36-month suspended sentence for an Employment Security Commission violation and for worthless check charges. The day care building has been foreclosed on, as has McEntyre's $1 million home, according to Orange County Superior Court records.
However, major creditors could be paid before the teachers are. "I don't know if there will be anything left for us by the time it's all paid out," Dula says.
Dula hasn't found work since CUCH closed. She plans to study to become a certified nursing assistant. "Right now the only hope I have now is taking this class and seeing what I have to offer somebody in that way," says Dula. "I just can't hold out hope that the day care will get sold. Time is passing, and I have a future. I have a life to live."
Dula says that the former teachers still talk regularly and that most are employed elsewhere. "Everybody is surviving," she says. "And we are hoping the future gets brighter for us. In the meantime, we're still hoping by some miracle we get our money."