Durham Public Schools CFO Resigns Amidst Overpayment Error

Durham Public Schools CFO Resigns Amidst Overpayment Error

An overpayment error in Durham Public Schools leads to the resignation of the Chief Financial Officer and protests from staff members.

Durham Public Schools (DPS) faced a major setback as the chief financial officer, Paul LeSieur, resigned following an overpayment error that affected school staff members. The error, which occurred between July and December 2023, resulted in some classified employees receiving more money than they should have in their paychecks. As the school district grappled with how to rectify the situation, employees staged walkouts and protests, demanding fair pay and proper staffing. This article delves into the details surrounding the overpayment error, its impact on the DPS community, and the steps taken to address the issue.

The Overpayment Error and its Causes

The overpayment error stemmed from a classified salary schedule approval in October, according to DPS. This approval inadvertently led to some classified employees, including nurses, janitorial and maintenance staff, and instructional aides, receiving inflated paychecks. The error was discovered during the processing of the October, November, and December payrolls, prompting immediate action from school leaders.

Staff Protests and Walkouts

As news of the overpayment error spread, DPS employees voiced their concerns through protests and walkouts. Frustrated with the lack of clarity and resolution, hundreds of staff members gathered to demand fair pay and adequate staffing. The protests left schools understaffed, further exacerbating the challenges faced by the district.

Bridge Funding and Board Response

In response to the mounting pressure from staff protests, the DPS Board of Education announced a budget amendment to bridge the funding gap for classified staff. This amendment allocated $4.5 million to cover their paychecks through January, providing temporary relief for affected employees. After a three-hour closed session, Bettina Umstead, the chair of the DPS Board of Education, issued a statement expressing regret for the harm caused by the payment mistake and emphasizing the board’s commitment to resolving the situation and rebuilding trust.

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Resolution and Second Checks

To ensure that classified staff members receive their full, promised pay for the month, the DPS Board of Education approved second checks. This measure aimed to rectify the overpayment error and provide financial stability to the affected employees. The error impacted not only classified employees but also transportation workers, nutrition and building services staff, instructional assistants, and physical and occupational therapists.

Conclusion:

The overpayment error in Durham Public Schools has had far-reaching consequences, leading to the resignation of the CFO and sparking protests from staff members. The incident has highlighted the importance of accurate payroll processing and transparent communication within the education system. While the bridge funding and second checks offer temporary relief, the DPS Board of Education must work diligently to regain the trust of its employees and prevent such errors from occurring in the future. The incident serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by school districts in ensuring fair compensation and proper staffing for their dedicated staff members.