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AEA: Supreme Court gives go-ahead for Chilton employees’ lawsuit

The employees filed suit after the school system attempted to recoup more than $50,000 in alleged salary overpayments.

The Heflin-Torbert Judicial Building in Montgomery, which is home to the Alabama Supreme Court.

The Alabama Supreme Court has denied a motion by a former Chilton County superintendent to dismiss a lawsuit against him for seeking to recoup alleged overpayments to two system employees, according to the Alabama Education Association. 

The AEA will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. Friday at the Chilton County Courthouse to discuss the decision by the ALSC to allow the lawsuit against Jason Griffin to move forward. 

The lawsuit stems from actions taken by Chilton County Schools in 2022 to recoup what it deemed “overpayments” to two employees – Christie Payne, a cafeteria manager, and Shellie Smith, a teacher. The system said the pair were overpaid approximately $23,000 and $33,000, respectively. 

It is apparent that the financial office of the Chilton County School System has been and continues to experience mismanagement of the public money provided to it by the taxpayers in Chilton County and the state of Alabama,” the press release from AEA stated. 

The letters sent to the employees demanded repayments and threatened steep fines if the employees didn’t make repayment arrangements promptly. 

Griffin, who is no longer a superintendent in Chilton County, told media outlets last April, in a written statement, that the overpayments dated back several years and that state law required that the system attempt to recoup them. 

However, the lawsuit filed by Smith and Payne states that Griffin has offered no evidence that they were mispaid and that the previous superintendent and administration set the salary schedules and determined their rates of pay each year. Both employees had received promotions and the previous administration determined where their new pay scale should begin. 

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The press release from the AEA also noted that the organization is investigating several other potential instances of Chilton County Schools employees being forced to repay money after financial office mistakes.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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