Kamaile Academy teachers to return $100,000+ in overpayments

A rare case of teachers getting overpaid has turned out to be a mistake.

About 70 teachers at Kamaile Academy, a Waianae charter school, were overpaid $2,000-$3,000 each, the Hawaii State Teachers Association says. The amount totals more than $100,000.

While the mistake happened months ago, the school notified teachers last week that they would have to pay it back. Many called KHON2 and said they were being forced to make a quick decision on how to do so.

Both Kamaile Academy’s principal and school board executive director declined to speak on camera, but they did say they are working with teachers to figure out a reasonable payment schedule. They would not explain how the mistake happened.

HSTA president Wil Okabe says the school’s payroll department made the mistake back in July. Kamaile Academy operates partly as a regular public school, so there are two sources that issue paychecks.

“There is a confusion within this particular school, because they have two different ways of paying their employees — one through the Dept. of Education and another through (the payroll service) Ceridian,” Okabe explained.

Okabe says the main thing now is for the school administration to work out a way for teachers to pay the money that wouldn’t present too much of a burden. “We hope that will satisfy (the teachers),” he said.

As to what a person can do if they are paid more than they should, long-time labor attorney David Simons says the employee has an obligation to let management know. In this case, the teachers did let the school know right away.

Simons also says management cannot just start taking money out of your check to pay it back. “The employee has the right to say, ‘You have to pay me my full wages, and then if you want to sue me, you can,’” he said. “So it’s not like the employer can just say, ‘We’re going to deduct it from you wages, whether you want to or not.’”

According to the labor department, if you received that extra pay more than two years ago, then you are not obligated to pay it back.

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