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Students Sue College in C-Store Flap

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Some Knoxville College students are suing their school, claiming they are not being paid for work they have done as part of a work study program involving Pilot Corp., based here.

According to a report on Knoxville's, even students not involved in the lawsuit want their questions answered. Interfield Colebrooke is one of them -- he earns his tuition by working at the Pilot convenience store across from Knoxville College.

"It was nice. I got to meet members of the community, different individuals, personalities, and it was quite interesting. And I enjoyed it, and I still enjoy it up until today," said Colebrooke.

Except for one thing. "I have not been paid at all," said Colebrooke.

Knoxville College and Pilot opened a convenience store together in 2000. Students work there, Pilot manages it, and the company splits the profits with the school.

"Pilot pays the college the equivalent wages for the students, and their job is to credit the tuition for the ones that owe tuition, and then pay the balance," said Paul Pardue, Pilot Travel Centers senior manager.

Colebrook told WBIR he has worked his hours for tuition for the spring semester plus about 100 extra hours he has not been paid for, but he keeps showing up for work.

"I'm a strong supporter of the school. I love the school. So, I will continue to do what I need to do for it to survive," said Colebrooke.

Knoxville College's president would not answer questions Tuesday, but she did read a statement.

"I understand the frustration and anxiety of those who are disaffected. We know that our slow progress on the fiscal front has been difficult for all who are associated with the college," said Dr. Barbara Hatton.

Pardue says Pilot will honor its commitment to Knoxville College through the summer and reevaluate the situation in the fall. He says he hopes the partnership will continue.

Knoxville College's board of trustees met over the weekend. It is supporting Dr. Hatton, and she says they have come up with a 90-day plan to help fix the college's problems.

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