CLANTON, Ala. (WIAT) – Seven school board members walk into a courtroom.
This is not a joke, but the expected result of an order from a Chilton County judge.
According to court records dated May 25, every member of the Chilton County School Board was ordered to appear in a Clanton courtroom due to a lawsuit over letters sent to employees demanding they repay thousands of dollars to correct accounting errors of several years.
The lawsuit against Superintendent Jason Griffin, filed by the Alabama Education Association on behalf of two employees, claims Griffin’s demands that employees pay thousands of dollars to correct payroll errors constitute an “illegal act.”
Christie Payne, the dining hall manager at Verbena High School represented in the lawsuit, was told she owed $23,465.40, dating back to the 2016-2017 school year.
Shellie Smith, the wife of school board member Chris Smith, is the other employee represented in the lawsuit. She said opening the letter from the school system demanding payments was “sickening”. The letter sent to Smith and signed by the superintendent demanded that the 19-year-old employee reimburse more than $33,000. They said she was overcompensated due to repeated pay errors.
Now Payne and Smith have filed a lawsuit, and Circuit Judge Sibley Reynolds has already granted a temporary restraining order that prevents the school district from garnishing or altering wages until the case is resolved. .
While Payne and Smith are the only employees named in the lawsuit, CBS 42 spoke to others who received similar letters from the school system. One, a bus driver who has worked for the district for nearly two decades, said he does not plan to pay the money or respond to the district in any way.
“It’s their mistake,” he said. “Why do the little people have to pay? »
A hearing in Payne and Smoth’s lawsuit is scheduled for May 31 on the matter, and every member of the school board is now expected to appear in the case.
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