Nearly 1,500 Howard Co. schools employees receive incorrect pay

About 1,500 Howard County public school employees have received incorrect payments this school year, officials said. Some employees have received less pay than they were owed; some have received more.

Some have received no pay at all.


The problems with the system's computerized payroll system have continued through seven pay periods. The school system, which employs about 8,100 people, adopted the new payroll system this year.

The average error for affected employees was about $40, schools spokesman John White said. He said officials have corrected the technical problems and now are monitoring payments.

Paul Lemle, president of the county's teachers union, said the errors have caused serious problems for employees, especially those who have automatic bill payments attached to their bank accounts and have not had enough funds to cover the deductions.

"It's creating hardship and confusion," he said. "I don't want people to come away with this as a minor issue. It's destabilizing."

A change in the Howard County school year scheduling has translated into a drastic difference in pay for many teachers, leading to financial strain only days before students go back to school.

Donna Tafuri, a para-educator at Ilchester Elementary School in Ellicott City, said she received $6,000 last week, far more than the $700 she typically receives for two weeks of work.

She said she did not notice the error before she received a call from payroll Friday morning. The money was retrieved from her account; she was given the option of picking up a check for the correct amount at school headquarters or a direct deposit that wouldn't be available until next week.

She opted for the direct deposit.

"Luckily for me, I do have a husband and a second income," she said.


Another para-educator, Karen Filippelli, said she receieved $10,000 on Friday – "eight or nine times" what she was due.

She normally is paid by direct deposit but chose pick up a check Friday.

"I needed a paycheck," she said.

Five challengers and one incumbent are vying for three seats on Howard County's school board in a contested election challengers believe is key to salvage lost accountability and transparency in the school system's leadership.

Lemle said he heard from others who received no money. He said school officials offered them checks on Friday.

White said administrators noticed the discrepancies after reviewing the payroll system and sent letters to employees to notify them.

The school system began using the financial and human resources management software Workday this year. White said the payroll errors make up 0.2 percent of the total number of transactions that took place over the last seven pay periods.


"We found those mistakes and are making sure everyone is paid appropriately," he said.

The next round of checks is scheduled Nov. 18.

The union has asked for detailed information about who has been affected and by how much. Lemle said the school system hasn't provided that information.

"I think it's our school system failing to communicate with its employees about issues and failing to resolve them in a timely manner," he said.