Clayton teachers have been asking that I post a blog about their disappearing pay — here one minute, gone the next.
The story has changed over the last week, but here is a quick summation: Clayton required teachers and other contract employees to give back part of their salary to deal with a $49 million budget deficit. But last week a federal judge approved a temporary restraining order stopping Clayton from forcing contract employees to repay part of their salary.
This week the judge lifted the restraining order, enabling the district to go forward with its plan. But he also said that employees might be able to regain their money by filing breach of contract complaints against Clayton schools.
According to the AJC, the school board approved five furlough days in April for the 2010-11 school year to shore up the district’s budget. But in an unusual move, four of those days were billed retroactively, with contract employees required to repay money or have it subtracted from their paychecks.
A teacher on the blog said: Let’s talk about how one district can give its teachers a bonus and then want it back. When will the AJC take a deeper look into the chaos happening in Clayton County? Teacher morale is at an all-time low, people are being furloughed or losing their jobs.
Judge Richard Story lifted the temporary restraining order he imposed against the district late last week. Story is a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The decision is the latest volley between the district and its employees over how to resolve the nagging budget deficit.
“We’re somewhat disappointed given the court entered the temporary restraining order on Friday, but the case is far from over. We’re not out of the fight yet,” said Blake Andrews whose Buckhead law firm is one of three Atlanta law firms representing Clayton teachers Linda Plummer and Janice Scott. The teachers filed a class-action lawsuit against the district last week. Attempts to reach the district’s attorney, Randy Farmer, were unsuccessful.
Teachers argue the district’s salary reduction plan, which asks them to give back pay, violates their constitutional rights.
“It’s fairly unusual for a retroactive furlough,” said Alan Hamilton, an attorney with Shiver Hamilton, LLC, a Midtown Atlanta law firm also representing the teachers. “The contracts the teachers signed may allow the district to declare a furlough prospectively, but not to go back and take money back. You go back and take it and teachers have trouble paying their bills and mortgages. They can face all sorts of negative financial consequences.”
In his decision to lift the restraining order, Story said employees could likely retrieve their money by filing breach of contract complaints against the school district.
The amount of money being deducted is roughly one week’s pay.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog