The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (more easily referred to as CalPERS) is demanding retired teachers from the Mt. Diablo Unified School District — who were accidentally overpaid as substitutes — return the money. Just in time for a little Christmas cheer.
Letters from CalPERS and the district have gone out to the retirees/substitute teachers telling them that they will be repaying by certain dates, the East Bay Times reported on Thursday. Former teacher union president and retired special education assistant Bonnie Rea told the East Bay Times that one retiree/substitute fears they’ll be on the hook for $1,000 tab, while others are even higher.
The mistakes in payment stems from a 2013 state law that changed how retirees are paid. Despite this change, the Mt. Diablo Unified School District continued with the old holiday pay system that allowed them to receive holiday pay working right before the holiday.
The district is sticking to the mandatory repayment, according to the newspaper, and confirmed the mistake in their own audit. “These mistakes do not happen often, and yet anytime an agency using public funds overpays an employee, it is considered a, ‘gift of public funds,’ meaning that the employees are required to repay the district the total amount they were overpaid,” Austin Breidenthal, a spokesperson with the district, told the East Bay Times in an email.
Rea said retirees are on fixed incomes, making the prospect of these high repayments “stressful.” But the stress means nothing for adhering to the law as itt would be illegal to ignore this! And there are no such thing as unjust laws on the books, no sir!! “For a public agency to forgive an overpayment is, again, not lawful, so that option could not be presented to the employees who were overpaid,” Breidenthal added.