Need Help locating Phila School Payroll link where money was taken out of employee bank accounts : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I've been tracking the problem in Philadelphia. Found all the links except for one important one.

Apparently in trying to correct the problem with payments to retired or deceased employees who were paid via direct deposits ... the school system had money tacken money out of certain employees bank accounts ... without their knowledge. Instead of a "direct deposit" ... it was more of a "direct electronic debit".

Some people's accounts which were debited ... were actually real employees who were supposed to be paid.

Money had been deposited. Then money was taken out of their accounts - without their knowledge.

Does anyone know where the URL is for the discussion or story? Thanks

-- Cheryl (, October 30, 1999


[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

District takes some pay back

Employees say personal bank accounts tapped into by payroll system

by Yvette Ousley

Daily News Staff Writer

More than 200 school employees have learned that what the School District giveth, the School District also taketh away.

The workers' paychecks were electronically deposited into their bank accounts on Oct. 15. But three days later, as the Daily News began reporting disastrous problems with the district's new $26 million computer system, the School District reached back into its workers' bank accounts and took back the money - no warning, no explanation.

"It's outrageous," said Ted Kirsch, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. "You expect a check, think the money's there and pay your bills."

Some workers have been bouncing checks as a result of the School District's latest blunder. One, said Kirsch, has worked at Olney High School for 20 years.

Consider the case of Rush Middle School teacher Stephen Trois. His $689.75 pay was electronically deposited into his bank account on Oct. 15. Then, on Oct. 18, the money was electronically removed.

Now, Trois says he can't pay his $350 monthly rent, $110 student loan payment or $200 credit card bill.

"I only signed for them to put money in - not take money out," said Trois, who learned from his bank, Fox Chase Federal, that his account had been debited for every penny of his pay.

"I take this very seriously," said Trois. "I'll be taking legal action if I can. I'm going to hang Mr. Hornbeck out to dry. You do not go into someone's bank account without permission."

School board member Jacques Lurie, chairman of the board's technology committee, was enraged when told of the goof.

"I'm extremely distressed that the board's technology committee has had two reports from staff in the last five days and has never been told about this situation," said Lurie. "It's unbelievable."

"If in fact people's accounts were debited incorrectly, in a single case, it's an extremely serious situation."

A top school official blamed the withdrawals on Daily News stories about the district's new computerized payroll and purchasing system, which has caused headaches for hundreds of school employees - past and present. Some have been overpaid, some have been underpaid and some haven't been paid at all. Some dead people also have been paid.

In all, 227 school workers were paid via direct deposit on Oct. 15, then lost their money without warning on Oct. 18.

"Frankly, it was a reaction to the story your paper put out," said Herbert Schectman, the district's acting executive director for financial services. "Because of all the negative publicity we received for paying dead people and retired people, we asked audit services to put together a list of people" who had resigned or retired.

"They put the list together and based upon that information we took the money back."

But 50 to 100 workers who were rightly paid ended up on the list, Schectman said. Others, though it's unclear how many, shouldn't have received the money.

Schools Superintendent David Hornbeck, reached late last night, said the district was prepared to fix the computer foul-up.

"It sounds to me like Mr. Schectman knows the nature of the problem and will correct it," Hornbeck said.

So far, about six of the electronic deposit problems have been corrected, he said. The rest of the workers are still waiting for their money.

District officials said 650 payroll complaints affecting about 900 employees will be corrected by Friday.

Some 3,020 workers will receive adjusted paychecks, officials said. It's unclear whether that number includes people who say their pay was electronically deposited, then removed.

Tom Lombardo, manager of the automated check clearinghouse at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, said the School District has a responsibility to repay the workers whose bank accounts were wrongly tapped.

"They got paid accurately. Then the money was taken back," Lombardo said. "They should not have done the reversal and probably should give the money back."

He said "employers can't go in and do unauthorized debiting" to people's personal bank accounts except for certain mistakes.

The district attorney's office wouldn't comment yesterday.

Even if the money is re-deposited to employees' accounts, the district could face liability, according to Charles W. Mooney Jr., interim dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

"Generally, I could well imagine potential liability even if in good faith they properly credited the accounts then improperly reversed the transactions when they weren't entitled to," Mooney said. "It seems to me that if an employee feels they've been disadvantaged they should get legal advice and consult with counsel."


-- Linkmeister (, October 30, 1999.

Thanks Linkmeister - I was hoping you'd come thru. Greatly appreciated!!!

-- Cheryl (, October 30, 1999.

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