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Nearly 320 CMS employees have to repay $750 COVID-19 stipend due to duplication error

CMS officials say state statute requires the district to recoup overpayments to employees regardless of the cause.
Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 6:01 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Hundreds of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools employees have to repay a large sum of money due to a payment error.

CMS officials say 319 employees were overpaid $750 in a duplicate payment reflected on their June 30 paycheck.

The district says the $750 stipend was provided to teachers and other school-based staff who assumed extra responsibilities to maintain instruction and support for students in response to the COVID-19 pandemic during the 2020-2021 school year.

“Employees completed a form to request payment that was reviewed and approved by principals,” according to a statement from CMS. “More than 10,000 employees received this stipend, which was paid in the amount of $750.00. The payments in question were processed with a pay date of June 30. There were 319 employees who received a duplicate payment of the $750 COVID stipend. One-time payments are entered into the payroll via a mass upload from Excel spreadsheets; 319 payments were duplicated in the upload process.”

The employees who received the duplicate payment are now being required to repay the district due to state statute.

CMS officials say state statute requires the district to recoup overpayments to employees regardless of the cause.

“While we understand that making repayment can be a financial hardship for employees, we are required to recoup the funds and, if necessary, can recoup against future earnings,” the CMS statement read in part.

Justin Parmenter, a teacher at South Academy of International Languages, is one of those 319 employees who received a duplicate payment.

“Any time humans are involved errors are going to happen, but it’s really important that those errors are handled in a way that causes as little harm as possible,” Parmenter said. “Announcing with very little notice that you’re going to take what amounts to a mortgage payment from paychecks right in the middle of the holidays would be the wrong way to handle it even in a normal year and this isn’t a normal year.”

Employees can contact the district’s payroll department for additional questions and request the recoupment to be spread out over multiple pay periods.

Parmenter says there should be consistent methods for splitting the payments up.

“It’s also important that the resolution to this problem be handled in a way that is consistent and equitable,” Parmenter said. “I asked payroll whether an installment payback would be possible. I was told they could do $375 this month and $375 next month. The very next day a teammate of mine was told he could pay back in installments of $250 in November, December and January.”

Those who received a duplicate payment and need to contact the CMS payroll department for assistance can do so here.

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