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Paychecks disappear from thousands of SLO County school employees' bank accounts

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Posted at 5:52 PM, Aug 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 19:30:43-04

UPDATE (Sept. 1, 2020) - The San Luis Obispo County Office of Education said Tuesday that most of the issues involving employee paychecks have been resolved; however, some employees' paychecks were reversed Tuesday and others were paid twice.

County education officials say the problem appears to be an issue with the mechanism Union Bank uses to distribute payroll to other banks.

(Aug. 31, 2020) - Thousands of teachers and staff members at San Luis Obispo County schools are wondering why direct deposit pay reversed out of their bank accounts.

Assistant Superintendent Sheldon Smith said that fewer than 4,000 employees were impacted by this payment reversal mishap.

KSBY News talked with several employees who were impacted but wished to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution.

"Extremely frustrated," said a bus driver with the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District. "I've already been charged an overdraft fee."

She said her pay was deposited on Friday but by Monday morning, she was informed by her bank that her paycheck had bounced.

"I immediately just felt like I had been hacked or I did not know until I came to work that so many people had been affected by it but as soon as I did, everybody was just standing there, everybody with their jaw wide open," she explained.

Paso Robles Joint Unified School District Superintendent Curt Dubost released a statement early Monday saying that the district was working with the SLO County Office of Education on the issue. In an email, Dubost said the problem had nothing to do with the district's finances or any cash flow problems.

"I personally feel left in the dark," said the anonymous employee.

Employees from all over San Luis Obispo County were impacted, including one Atascadero Unified employee who has worked for the district for 16 years.

"A lot of us normally pay off our bills on this day when we receive it so a couple of us had to cancel payment on our bills and one employee had to cancel his payment for his house payment."

The SLO County Office of Education said Monday afternoon that they were working with Union Bank to get the problem fixed. SLOCOE said the payroll goes from the County Treasury to Union Bank and then that bank makes the transfer to each employees' bank.

SLOCOE says that Union Bank is reporting the payroll will be re-deposited by 8 p.m. on Monday and it'll post to employees' accounts by Tuesday morning.

SLOCOE is working with Union Bank on crediting any insufficient funds charges applied to individual employee accounts.

It's also working with Union Bank this week to figure out the cause of the reversals as well as their prevention.