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"Technical glitch" costs some Detroit teachers their paychecks

Jul 29, 2015

Detroit Federation of Teacher President Steve Conn.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

An unspecified “technical glitch” in the Detroit Public Schools’ payroll system has left teachers in the lurch this week.

Some teachers were shorted hundreds of dollars in the last pay period, while others weren’t paid at all, according to Detroit Federation of Teachers President Steve Conn.

Conn said it’s an ongoing issue that’s getting worse. He blames Gov. Rick Snyder and the district’s series of state-appointed emergency managers for the “numerous and snowballing” payment problems.

“There’s been nothing but a steady degrading and dismantling of any kind of structures within the system, including just regularly and accurately paying our teachers,” Conn said.

“There’s no fairness for the teachers in the DPS payroll system, and it’s continuing to drive teachers out of the district.”

The issues are surfacing at a time when DPS is looking to hire hundreds of teachers for the upcoming school year.

Conn added that when the missing pay is restored, it’s given to teachers on debit cards — but “those are even harder to deal with” because of limits on bank withdrawals and ATM fees.

The DFT plans to file grievances over the continued problems, Conn said. Grievances over bonuses and other back pay issues are already pending.

The union was also in court Wednesday over one of several grievances that involve allegations of retaliation against teachers. The teachers say principals and other administrators punished teachers who complained about a lack of classroom resources, excessive class sizes, and other violations of the DFT’s current contract.

Messages left for a DPS spokesperson by Michigan Radio were not immediately returned Wednesday. 

However, Conn reported on the union’s website Wednesday afternoon that the district acknowledged “at least two problems with this week’s payroll;” that missing pay should be restored by Friday; and that the district will arrange to pay teachers unable to pick up debit cards via check or some other means.