LAUSD Payroll Fiasco : Update

Back in August, I told you about LAUSDs faulty payroll system. This past Monday, the LA Times published this piece providing the basic timeline of the terrible ordeal, as well as pointing out that, due to LAUSD convoluted bureaucracy, no one was in charge of the system.

The payroll system went live in January 2007, and before it was rolled out, LAUSD heard plenty of warnings about the $95 million system’s shortcomings. Several test runs ended in spectacular failures. LAUSD decided to ignore the warnings–whether this was due to hubris or incompetence, no one is really sure. Either way, the results were the same: employees were given no pay, inaccurate pay, and some were told they had to give back “extra” pay.

As far as I know, I have not been affected by the payroll debacle. This week, I spoke to some of my coworkers whom I knew have been affected, to get an idea of what became of their situation.

One woman, a social studies teacher on my wing, told me her problems began in January 2007, when the system went live. She stopped receiving a paycheck. She called the downtown offices on Beaudry, trying to get the problem fixed. She said she finally began receiving an accurate paycheck a year later, in December 2007. When I asked her if her W-2 was affected, she shook her head. “I don’t know. I’m going to take all my documents to a tax preparer and have him sort it out. I just hope it turns out okay.”

Another woman, a special education teacher I always see at union meetings, told me she was in dire straits. “They’re telling me I owe them $6000! I’ve looked at my paychecks and stubs, and I don’t know where they’re getting that figure from. I hope I don’t have to hire a lawyer.”

Everyone else on campus is either not affected, or unwilling to discuss their private finances with me (completely understandable, of course); but there are others. I think these ladies are always talking about it because their situations are so dramatic and unbelievable.

While LAUSD spends upward of an additional $35 million on consultants to address the problem, UTLA is doing what little it can to help. The employee paystub will be redesigned to make it easier to read. UTLA has forced the district into testing before rolling out (of course, LAUSD tested the payroll system: it simply chose to ignore the results).

Something UTLA is doing (this one perhaps actually helpful to LAUSD employees) is hosting an “Income Tax Q & A”. Congressman Brad Sherman and State Controller John Chiang will be available to answer questions “regarding the possible impact of the LAUSD payroll crisis on 2007 income tax returns.”

A follow-up Op-Ed piece, also in the LA Times, has Tim Rutten calling for Superintendent Brewer’s resignation. I would take it much, much further than just getting rid of Brewer. He is simply the head of a diseased body, and like a mythological beast there are always plenty of heads to sprout back.

Income Tax Q & A
February 19, 2008

Los Angeles Session
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
3303 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles
UTLA Headquarters

Valley Session
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
17000 Haynes St., Van Nuys
Birmingham HS
Multi-purpose Room

RSVP: Eric Barrientos
(213) 637 – 5171
ebarrientos (at) utla (dot) net

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