DPS will appeal order to repay teachers

DETROIT — An administrative law judge has ordered Detroit Public Schools to repay four teachers $8,500 each in deferred pay, plus interest, a move that the district will appeal in Wayne County Circuit Court, according to the Detroit Free Press.

If the ruling stands, the district potentially would have to repay all teachers in the district a combined $50 million, the Free Press reported.

The case stems from contract negotiations between the district and the Detroit Federation of Teachers in 2009, when teachers voted for a three-year contract that allowed the district to deduct $250 per pay period from each teacher over two years and give it to them as a lump sum when they left the district, the Free Press reported. The maximum deferral allowed per teacher was $10,000.

The move was intended to help ease cash flow in the district, which already is under emergency financial management, according to the Free Press. But four teachers filed a complaint, and the administrative judge with the State Office of Administrative Hearings and rules ruled that deductions to benefit employers require written consent from each employee, the Free Press reported.

Steve Wasko, DPS spokesman, said the district will appeal the ruling.

George Washington, lawyer for the four teachers who filed the complaint, said that about 500 teachers have filed claims so far, of about 6,000 affected, the Free Press reported.

Detroit Free Press, “Could DPS end up repaying teachers more than $50 million?” April 27, 2011

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “It Shouldn’t Take a Hurricane to Revitalize Detroit Public Schools,” April 4, 2011