L.A. NOW

Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

More potential for problems with L.A. Unified's payroll system, grand jury says

The payroll system used by the nation's second-largest school district remains at risk of collapse because of a lack of follow through after an earlier, much-publicized payroll debacle, a grand jury has concluded.

The L.A. County Grand Jury annual report, released Wednesday, took aim at the malfunctioning payment system launched in January 2007 in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Thousands of employees were overpaid, underpaid or not paid at all. The underpayments and other glitches caused distress for thousands; the district has attempted to recoup nearly $60 million from about 35,000 employees. Early this year, the district was still in pursuit of more than $9 million.

The grand jury investigation traveled well-worn ground in examining what went wrong, noting inadequate employee training and the lack of a sufficient trial run to work out glitches.

But it also made new findings about future hazards. The report noted that three internal district audits in the wake of the crisis listed 47 recommendations -- most of which officials accepted as correct. Yet no formal follow-up has occurred to make sure that employees acted successfully on these recommendations.

In addition, district technical staff said tight finances and a reluctance to integrate more new technology have delayed the introduction of the final portion of the payroll system.

The district's own technical staff indicated that on "a scale of one to ten with … ten being a disaster, LAUSD is currently at eight on the scale of exposure," according to the report.

The risks of a system collapse could result in an inability to replenish stock in the food warehouse or to receive, process and deliver supplies to schools. In addition, the district could lose crucial financial data or forfeit funding for failing to file mandated reports.

Completing the payroll system could take up to 36 months and cost $25 million to $30 million, and "personnel required to perform this task are not currently available," the report concluded. The lack of qualified expertise is a result of layoffs and the severing of ties with payroll consultants.

A spokesperson for the school district said officials would have no immediate comment because key senior staff were either on vacation or were forced to take a furlough day as part of ongoing budget cuts.

-- Howard Blume

 
Comments () | Archives (10)

We pay big for the District's mistakes. I was an employee of LAUSD and I was laid-off (RIF). In my last year of employment they overpaid me and now that I am unemployed I have to pay them back. You trust that they are doing their job right but they are not. Employees and taxpayers have to pay the consequences for LAUSD's mistakes.

I'm glad the LA Times is keeping the public updated on this issue. It's no surprise that LAUSD is still dealing with it so many years later. While there are too many poorly performing teachers who need additional professional development -- not pink slips -- the administrators at the school and district levels need to create a structure that allows teachers to teach.

To Howard Blume, fyi, please be careful when using the term "mandated report" which to educators usually means a report of suspected child abuse.

The only people getting rich from this payroll debacle are the vendors who sell the defective software and the consultants who are paid $25,000 per month plus expenses to supposedly fix it. The hundreds of millions of dollars spent on this money pit would have solved the budget woes of the District and avoided layoffs. Follow the money trail and see who profited at the expense of our children.

why would anyone knowingly spend money that they know they are not entitled to?

When LAUSD was pushing the parcel tax why did they not remind the public of their inconsistent payrol system of 2007? You see LAUSD knew that if the public knew or was reminded especially those who have low onership in properties some voter would have not voted in favor of that tax, but thank god for 2/3 vote. Second yes we need more oversight of LAUSD's day to day operations and how they make puchases of software like that from their payrol where glitches existed during its implementation.

There should be a list sometime in the future on those employees who have not paid back the excess pay they have gotten. Things like this make me believe that LAUSD is overstating its need for more funds. IF they have the lack of control on reckless purchases then why should homeowners /property owners foot the bill for a large district that is out of control? LAUSD needs to stop requesting new ballot measures that go against parcels. LAUSD needs to be broken down just like a big bank that is to big to fail we should apply the same to large school districts. Why? because it always comes down to funds, your tax dollars. Money coming in but once it comes out its all gone. San Fernando Valley was correct when it wanted to split LAUSD many moons ago.

as an lausd employee, this is what i heard: the district paid something around $93 million for this payroll system. as soon as it was implemented it began malfunctioning. the teacher's union made a feeble attempt to sue the district, but the judge ruled that since the vendor was not employed by the union, they had no jurisdiction to demand recourse. that was up to the vendor's employer, which was the district. that was the end of that.

that is the way this train wreck works; over the years, billions have been thrown at sweet deals like this one, for books, for technology and to develop and implement politically correct theories to compensate for a lack of student and parent accountability. billions in tax-payer money to buy books, technology and training for "struggling students" and "language learners" who were born in the U.S., schooled in the U.S., but still can't read or write, so teachers get trained to work with hispanics who are "social learners, they learn by talking;" when i heard that one i blew a gasket; but that kind of crap isn't considered racist because it comes from liberals and other people of color. but it sounds eerily similar to "hispanics are good with their hands," which we heard a lot of when i was a public school student.

every day this train crashes, and the next day they throw more money at the conductors to go and crash it again.

As a teacher who lived through the payroll nightmare (one of which has never completely righted itself), I'm not surprised in the least the additional possible problems this system could cause. When I think of how many books could have been bought, campuses remodeled, and layoffs avoided it's truly saddening. However, one thing that keeps irritating me in Times articles I read on this issue is the focus on employee's who were overpaid. I, and many more teachers, were UNDERPAID, and NEVER received correct compensation. It would finally come down to them giving you a mystery check with no paperwork to back it up and saying, "This is all we owe you." They wouldn't even listen to you or look at any paperwork you had. Gatekeepers would refuse to let you speak to anyone in payroll. It was a sort of "take this or nothing attitude." This was the level of respect shown to teachers. I experienced this and heard the story over and over from others. Still, to this day, payroll errors are constant. You never know how much, or when, you'll get paid. Random, incorrect deductions will appear out of nowhere with no one able to explain them. How the District intends on retaining quality teachers when they can't even seem to figure out how to cut a proper paycheck I don't know. If the Times wants a good story, show up at the Beaudry building on the 6th of any month (the day after payday) and see how many people are waiting in the lobby, taking time off from work, and trying JUST to get paid.

As an employee of LAUSD I can assure you if I ran my classroom the way they run the district I would be written up and put up for dismissal.

MANY MANY TEACHERS WERE UNDERPAID AND HAD TO WAIT IN OFFICES IN LINE FOR DAYS JUST TO GET PAID. NOT JUST ONCE BUT MONTH AFTER MONTH AFTER MONTH. UNABLE TO PAY BILLS MORTGAGES OR TUITION FOR KIDS. MY SICK DAYS ARE STILL SCREWED UP. EVERY YEAR THEY DO IT INCORRECTLY. AND NOW THEY ARE TALKLING ABOUT IT NOT WORKING AGAIN. Who helped us who cared, all you do is criticize teachers we do a hard thankless job and our administration treats us like cattle. We deserve better.

I was overpaid way too many times. Each time, I was the one who pointed it out to my timekeepers but because no one at the Beaudry building would answer their phones nothing was done for months. The last time they overpaid me by 80 hours. It took them 6 months to "correct" it. And when they did, they just took back the money, but not the hours so I ended up having to take off 80 hours to come in under my 999 limit so that I wouldn't be fired. All because LAUSD can't figure out how to make this system work. =/


Connect

Recommended on Facebook


Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

Video

About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Please send to newstips@latimes.com
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.

Categories




Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: