The Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) is set to start paying employees again after a month during which new hires didn’t receive paychecks.
According to the school district, just over 100 employees out of more than 350 new hires have gone without pay due to the school rapidly hiring new employees in a short time frame after being understaffed during the pandemic.
After the checks didn’t come in on time, calls from educators flooded into the Santa Ana Educators Association office near the end of August, and the issue was brought up further during a Sept. 14 SAUSD board meeting when Shayna Lathus, a teacher in the district, told the trustees that they needed to do something to fix the problem.
“This afternoon I was shocked to learn that our newest certificated staff in our district have not yet been paid,” Lathus said. “How on Earth is this in any way acceptable?
“I’m outraged that we have teachers and counselors who are doing everything they can to serve our SAUSD community and it is appalling they have not been paid … It makes me incredibly sad to know that this is something that our district has accepted as okay, these are people who have been out of work for months. These are people who lost other jobs in good faith to come work for our district. They are working for our students, and we are leaving them high and dry, and I think this is unacceptable.”
Lathus suggested that the board utilize some of the money received from the American Rescue Plan Act to hire more human resources to help.
One week after that meeting, the district said in a statement that some of the faculty members have now been paid and that they’re working on paying the rest, although they didn’t specify numbers.
The problem will not happen again, the district noted, saying the employees will receive their paychecks on their regular pay cycles going forward.
“As part of the effort to reopen schools for in-person instruction after 17 months, and to continue to ensure healthy and safe places for learning, Santa Ana Unified School District has been working to hire hundreds of new staff members to support students in a variety of roles,” SAUSD told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement.
“SAUSD is proud to have hired more than 350 teachers, counselors, social workers, school psychologists, and other staff since summer began. A District and Board of Education priority as we restart in-person instruction at all schools this year is to lower student to staff ratios to better support children’s academic and social-emotional needs while we continue to navigate through this pandemic.”
“As a result of bringing so many new staff members on board in a relatively short amount of time, delays have occurred in the processing of new hire documentation for some staff members. This situation resulted in a delay of some employees’ initial paychecks. The District assures that these employees have now been compensated, or are currently in the process of being compensated, for all days worked.”
The school district didn’t say how long it would take to fully fund all the employees.