Teacher quits over continued payroll issues within Gaston County Schools

Gaston County Schools did not respond when WBTV reached out about the story Monday.
Gaston County Schools did not respond when WBTV reached out about the story Monday.
Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 6:03 PM EDT
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GASTONIA, N.C. (WBTV) - A pay problem WBTV has been investigating for nearly two years is costing an area school district.

Teachers and employees of Gaston County Schools have been complaining they’ve not been getting properly paid. The school district said it’s a software issue.

WBTV has learned it became such an issue that a teacher quit and changed districts. It’s the latest consequence of the payroll issues within Gaston County Schools.

While the problem has lessened since WBTV first reported on it, it’s putting financial pressure on some teachers.

One teacher who called Woodhill Elementary home said goodbye Friday to her students.

“Financially, it has been a strain on me,” Tawanda Smith, a former teacher for Gaston County Schools, said.

Smith has 10 years of teaching experience and worked for Gaston County Schools for two years. Friday was her last day and she’s now with a different area school district.

“It was hard because I enjoy teaching my students. It was hard for me to leave my students, but it wasn’t hard for me to make that decision to leave to get away from the county although,” Smith said.

Since December 2022, Smith said she dealt with overpayments, underpayments and issues with benefit payments. Most recently, her August paycheck was short by $300.

“They were still telling me I owed them money, so they just took $300. I don’t know what the $300 was for on my end, but they’re saying it was due to the overpayment, which is not correct,” Smith said.

Gaston County Schools did not respond when WBTV reached out about the story Monday.

In a previous statement last month on this issue, the district said: “Our payroll system is stable, and we continue to process our bi-weekly and monthly payroll runs as scheduled. Issues have become fewer with each new payroll run – employees are being paid.”

“I had a meeting with them prior to me leaving and they was saying that I still owed $372.18 and I can’t figure out why I still owe that,” Smith said.

She claims Gaston County Schools offered to match what her new school district is paying to keep her, but she declined.

“With the whole payroll, I need to make sure that I’m going to get paid and get paid what I should get paid, and it seems like since I was leaving, they were trying to fix the problem, like compensate me but I wasn’t going for that,” Smith said.

She believes the only way the payroll issue will improve in Gaston County is when more teachers become vocal about the issue. She claims some are afraid to come forward about the issue.

Gaston County Schools told WBTV in August if an employee is having payroll issues to contact their supervisor or principal.