MPS fires Chief School Financial Officer after issue with employee payroll

Published: Sep. 2, 2016 at 5:00 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 2, 2016 at 8:15 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - By a vote of 4-2, the Montgomery Public School Board voted Friday to fire Chief School Financial Officer Pamela Wooden following Wednesday's mishap in which the system's employees did not receive their scheduled paychecks.

Wooden's termination came in a special called board meeting.

Board member Mary Briars (District 4) was opposed to the idea of terminating Wooden, saying there was nothing in her personnel file that would warrant the punishment.

"I know that it caused our employees quite a bit of hardship," Briars said, "but it does not rise to the level of being terminated." Briars agreed Wooden should be reprimanded, but vouched for her, explaining, "I know how hard she works. She's down here sometimes until 10:30 or 11 o'clock at night."

Board member Robert Porterfield ( District 6) also voted against the termination motion, saying "We're overshooting the runway..."

"She [Wooden] was not terminated for human error," said Board President Melissa Snowden (District 5). "She was terminated for the coverup, for not showing responsibility, for not doing her job performing in the proper way that caused the problems that ensued."

"We think that was a totally unjust move," Wooden's attorney, Theron Stokes, told media after the meeting adjourned. "We know that there was an error that was made, but it was not the first error ever made in Montgomery County, and I guarantee you it will not be the last."

"This is a sad day for Montgomery County," Stokes continued, "to bring in somebody with her qualities and her standards and turn around and take this kind of action against her. If you ask the school board members, they didn't have any documentation in front of them that would indicate in any manner why Ms. Wooden should have been fired."

MPS officials said Wednesday's situation was the result of human error at the central office. No one received their paycheck on time, including the superintendent, and many had concerns with Thursday being the first of the month.

Wooden started as payroll supervisor in August of 2013. She became CSFO on April 1, 2015, making an annual salary of more than $102,000. In her role as CSFO, Wooden was responsible for all financials for the school system, including payroll and purchasing. Snowden said the CSFO is responsible for handling more than $300 million.

The search for an interim CSFO is underway.

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