Settlement reached after Gaston County Schools over payroll issues

Settlement reached after Gaston County Schools over payroll issues
Published: Oct. 11, 2023 at 6:06 PM EDT
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GASTONIA, N.C. (WBTV) - Protests, heated meetings, teachers quitting and a lawsuit.

After more than a year of employee payroll issues within Gaston County Schools, there’s a settlement in a lawsuit filed earlier this year.

There’s no clear winner in this lawsuit; the case was dismissed and all parties agreed on solutions.

Educators are hopeful this will help the district move forward and boost morale.

“It is a milestone; it has been an ongoing issue for more than a year,” Tamika Walker Kelly, the president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, said.

The payroll issue started in January 2022 after the district changed the payroll system. It led to overpayments, underpayments and some employees not getting paid at all, causing issues for some employees.”

Walker Kelly said it “impacted educators’ ability to pay for housing, pay for food and other life essentials while continuing to do their professional obligations.”

In March, the North Carolina Association of Educators filed a lawsuit against Gaston County Schools seeking $25,000 in damages for two teachers. That lawsuit has since been dismissed and agreements reached with all parties involved.

“Once people realize all of the things that have gone in place that it’s going to be a little more calming and better moral than it has been since this all started almost two years ago,” Alexa Gram Feller, the Gaston County president of the NCAE, said.

Gaston County Schools released a statement saying:

The NCAE and the individual plaintiffs agreed to voluntarily dismiss their claims against the Board with prejudice. The Board’s insurance company has agreed to pay $20,000 to the attorneys for the NCAE.

The Board and NCAE agreed that school district administrators and representatives from the NCAE will continue to work together, as they have in the past, on personnel and other school-related matters.

It is important to point out that no one entity or organization is solely responsible for resolving our conversion-related payroll issues. The significant progress made to address issues related to our payroll conversion is the direct result of the diligent hard work of our payroll, finance, and human resources departments; the dedicated technical support from CherryRoad Technologies and Oracle; and support from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. Because of these collaborative efforts, our payroll system continues to be operational, and we are using it to run our bi-weekly and monthly payrolls to pay our employees on schedule.”

The district implemented a new ticketing system to expedite problems employees may have with their payroll.

“If you have an issue, they will reply back to you in 48 hours to let you know do I need to give you more information, or they’re going to pay you and it settles,” Gram Feller said.

The Gaston County chapter of the NCAE tells WBTV the new system has been in place for several months now and it appears to be working. If there are problems with incorrect payments, the district will cover costs and fees.

“I’m hoping that from this day forward that we’re just going to continue to move forward and hopefully there will not be any more issues with the pay stuff,” Gram Feller said.

As part of the settlement, Gaston County Schools and the NCAE will continue regular meetings to ensure payroll and other matters are resolved within the district.

The education association tells WBTV that the payroll issues have decreased. If there are problems, employees can submit claims through the new ticket system.