Rollings (copy) (copy)

Dorchester District 2 is embroiled in an $11 million lawsuit over a contract for construction of Rollings Middle School of the Arts in Summerville. File/Staff

SUMMERVILLE — Dorchester School District 2 is facing an $11 million lawsuit after a Georgia construction company said the district breached its contract and didn’t pay for completed construction of Rollings Middle School of the Arts.

McKnight Construction, which filed the lawsuit Aug. 15, says two years into a contract to build the performing arts school the district abruptly appointed a consulting firm to take over management of the project — which violated the contract.

Since then, the company has not been paid for work it completed, the filing says.

The lawsuit seeks $5 million in damages and an additional $6 million in total job loss. It also seeks 12 percent interest on the payment for completed construction.

District spokesperson Pat Raynor said the district cannot comment on pending litigation. Attorneys for McKnight Construction declined to comment beyond what's in the public record.

McKnight and the district entered into the construction contract on Jan. 28, 2016, with construction of Rollings scheduled to be complete in February 2018. During the construction process, the lawsuit alleges, the district changed the schedule and asked McKnight to speed parts of construction up and slow others down.

These requests forced McKnight to do the work in a less efficient and more expensive way than the initial contract laid out. The lawsuit also accuses the district of being unresponsive and uncooperative with McKnight during the construction process, delaying the project further.

In early 2018, the district hired Oakbridge Consulting and Management, a Columbia-based firm, to take over as representative of the construction project. Immediately after, McKnight says it stopped receiving payments that were lined out in the contract.

Despite concerns over the changes to the construction process, McKnight says in the lawsuit it completed everything the district requested — but hasn’t been properly paid.

In September 2018, the district agreed to meet and discuss outstanding charges for the requested construction changes, totaling $600,000, and in October, the two entities agreed to a payment plan. That payment didn’t come until November, and ended up being less than what they agreed, the lawsuit says. It also came with the stipulation it waived other agreements between the parties.

“This was ... yet another contrived artifice and scheme to defer and deny lawful payment to McKnight and yet another breach of the obligation of good faith and fair dealing,” the lawsuit says.

The district has until Sep. 15 to respond to the complaint.

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Contact Conner Mitchell at 843-958-1336. Follow him on Twitter at @ConnerMitchell0.

Conner Mitchell is a Kansas native covering Berkeley and Dorchester counties for The Post and Courier. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas and has worked previously at the Kansas City Star, Lawrence Journal-World and Palm Beach Post.

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