Rowan-Salisbury Schools to deduct money from June paychecks after overpaying

The issue surfaced in January when retroactive pay increases were paid.
Rowan-Salisbury BOE Chairman Dean Hunter speaking about the overpayment issue during Monday's...
Rowan-Salisbury BOE Chairman Dean Hunter speaking about the overpayment issue during Monday's meeting.(Rowan-Salisbury Schools)
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 6:40 AM EDT
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ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Rowan-Salisbury School System employees who were mistakenly overpaid will have to pay the money back through a deduction in their June paychecks, according to the Rowan-Salisbury Schools.

The issue surfaced in January when retroactive pay increases were paid. Those increases were made retroactive to July 1, meaning employees would be paid as if they were making the increased amount back in July. That money was paid to RSS 10-month employees in January.

On Friday the district sent an email to 10-month employees who received the overpayment saying that the employees were mistakenly paid for 10 months instead of 7 months, and that the overpayment would have to be recouped. The district blamed the error on a software glitch.

The issue was discussed during Monday’s Board of Education meeting by Board Chairman Dean Hunter.

“We’ve had conversations as a board about what happened last Friday and the emails of the overpayment and the need for repayment of overpayment, which quite honestly was unfortunate in a lot of ways, and I have reached out,” Hunter said. “I know the board has reached out and communicated with many who have reached out to us and expressed our sincere apologies for that. Obviously, I would be remiss to not say that it wasn’t the board who was responsible for that, but we are sorry that that happened and I, even in the letter that was sent out there was an attempt to clarify the reason for the need for repayment, so I wanted this added tonight so that our attorney could briefly explain why it was necessary for the system to recoup the overpayments that were made.”

Attorney Lindsay Smith, of the education law firm Tharrington Smith, explained that the board is bound by state law to repay the overpayment, saying “if there is any overpayment of state funds to any person who is in a state-funded position that it has to recouped by the entity that made the overpayment and has to be offset against the wages of the person who received the overpayment. The board does not have the discretion to forgive those overpayments, so it really binds the board’s hands.”

Hunter added that board values teachers and that it has taken steps to help them financially whenever possible.

“As a board we are deeply sorry that this happened,” Hunter added. “It was untimely at best and we, our desire as our attorney alluded to, was to potentially forgive it, even though it was a mistake and, but to not have to do that, it sounded terrible that we actually had to attempt to recoup money that had been overpaid but we would, and if we could have, and still kind of reeling over the fact that we couldn’t. It was an error and I can assure you and this board does value our teachers.”

Giving money from COVID funds to help supplement teacher incomes was one example Hunter cited.

“Teachers will never in my opinion make what they’re worth. We can’t forgive that (the overpayment) or we would have, I assure you it would have happened,” he said.

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