I just got an audit from San Diego Unified that provides new details on its persistent overpayment problem .
San Diego Unified’s own investigators noted that the school district sometimes pays employees who are taking a leave of absence or even those who have left the school district because the human resources department lags in telling the payroll department that the employees are gone. The audit found more than $675,000 in overpayments to educators, principals and a manager on leave, including a whopping overpayment of nearly $64,000 to just one educator, between July 2004 and July 2007.
That same employee even got $450 in extra pay for supposedly “perfect attendance” during one of the two school years in which he was erroneously paid. He received monthly paychecks for 16 months after taking a leave of absence, according to the audit. San Diego Unified later sued the employee to recover the funds and as of July 2008 had settled with him to recoup $20,000, the audit stated.
I wrote about this problem more than a year ago, when school board members and the county treasurer were complaining about lagging payments from employees who were once overpaid. Employee unions agree that it is a problem, but they are reluctant to speed up repayments lest their employees be punished because of the district’s mistakes. They believe that the existing policy of setting a reimbursement plan over time is adequate.
The audit, completed in August, was presented to the Audit and Finance Committee of the school board in January. (I wasn’t there. Sorry. Better late than never.) The January report that stated the chief financial officer, James Masias, will be working with its audits and investigations office to recoup the remaining overpayments.