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‘They don’t owe one dime’ Chilton Co. teachers, AEA discuss lawsuit against superintendent

Judge grants order on Chilton Co. School employee payments
Published: May. 20, 2022 at 12:14 PM CDT|Updated: May. 20, 2022 at 4:21 PM CDT
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CHILTON CO., Ala. (WBRC) - The mounting confusion over letters informing some Chilton County School employees that they had been overpaid and now owed thousands, will be settled in a courtroom according to lawyers with the American Education Association.

“Our biggest concern is that we don’t know the efficiency of their accounting office,” said Theron Stokes, AEA Associate Executive Director.

Two Chilton Co. teachers, now plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the superintendent, stood with lawyers and AEA reps Friday to address the media.

“This is a matter of great concern. We have to make sure that what is going on is accurate. We’re concerned about the office itself. The miscalculations of teachers salary,” Stokes went on to say. “Now we’re also concerned that some odd teacher is being underpaid and just doesn’t know it. So it’s our attempt now to make sure that the plaintiffs in this situation are treated fair and we know they don’t owe one dime back to this board of education. and what they’re trying to do to them and their family is just unconscionable. AEA is here to make sure that injustice doesn’t happen.”

According to Stokes, the lawsuit was filed against the superintendent and not the school board because the superintendent appears to have sent the letters without consulting the board.

“The school board hasn’t been apart of this. They have not given express nor written consent to do this. The letter strictly came from the superintendent. There is no evidence that the school board ever approved this action that he’s taken.”

The plaintiffs have filed for a temporary restraining order against the Chilton Co. superintendent. A motion that according to the attorneys, the judge plans to grant.

“The judge will enter a motion for a temporary restraining order against the superintendent, meaning he is restrained from taking any action in the matter to try and take our clients pay that they’ve worked hard for and earned,” said Stokes.

The two teachers were also present and spoke of the stress and heartache the ordeal has caused them and their families.

Shellie Smith is a teacher at the career tech center.

“My son is graduating from high school. And as we speak I’m missing his senior day to be here and deal with this situation that I have been put in. I love my job, I love what I do and before I took the job I asked ‘will I make this amount of money?’ They told me yes. So I didn’t take any money. I have always thought that the money I have been paid is what I was supposed to be paid,” she said.

Christie Payne is a lunch room manager at Verbena High School

“It’s very stressful I couldn’t tell you how many afternoons and nights I’ve cried and haven’t slept. It’s hard to focus on anything right now when someone suddenly slaps you with a bill for $24,000 that you had no idea it had been even happening. When I opened the letter I was in shock. I just want it to all go away. It’s impossible. I don’t have that kind of money to give back to them,” she said.

Next, the judge will schedule a hearing.

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