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Overpaid Chilton County school employee is wife of school board member

Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 11:24 PM CDT
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CHILTON COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - Chilton County School board members were set to meet on Wednesday, April 27, but the meeting was canceled. That’s after the district discovered thousands of dollars in overpayments dating back several years.

School board member Chris Smith told WBRC one of the overpaid employees, Shellie Smith, is his wife.

Chilton County’s Superintendent, Jason Griffin, said the board meeting was to discuss new hires, but he rescheduled it for May to take a break.

AEA officials said as of April 27, no other employees have come forward with a letter besides the three including Smith, lunchroom manager Christie Payne, and a bus driver for the schools.

All three are asked to pay back thousands each and many parents say they think it’s unfair, because they feel their tax dollars have been wasted and school employees already do enough.

“It’s very unfair,” parent Jennifer Fesmire said. “A lot of them put their own money into it. Into the classrooms, into the things they do, the extra for the children. Stuff that they don’t have to provide.”

“We put money in tax dollars to help pay that, but the teachers have also paid extra taxes on this,” Fesmire said. “Now, they are charging them interest when they have already paid as well.”

WBRC also reached out to the district’s Chief Financial Officer, the state Department of Education, and multiple elected officials for Chilton County to learn more about how a district could overpay employees for multiple years, but did not hear back.

In a recent statement from the Chilton County Board of Education, they said: “We cannot comment on specific personnel matters. The Chilton County Board of Education recently discovered several overpayments. These overpayments date back several years, and were initiated prior to the tenure of the current Finance Department, Superintendent, and Board. Under Board policy and the law, board officials are required to recoup any overpayments. We are mindful of the financial impact that this matter can have on our employees, and we are working to balance that impact with our obligation to recover the funds.”

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