OUSD employees find bank accounts overdrawn due to payroll glitch

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About 2,800 teachers and other employees of the Oakland Unified School District got a surprise Wednesday morning: their last paychecks were no longer in their accounts.  

Among them is a Skyline High School social sciences teacher.

"Teachers were saying check your account and $2,700 was removed from my account," said Harley Litzelman.

The school district says an employee in the central office accidentally deleted the Dec. 1 direct deposit paychecks for many teachers, principals and staff workers. 

Oakland Unified School District takes responsibility for payroll glitch 

"We had some kind of human error here at OUSD where someone hit a button, clicked on something they shouldn't have clicked on and in the end reversed the payment for all these employees," said district spokesman John Sasaki.

The district had initially blamed a bank for the mistake. Now there is the question of  how a payroll system could be so vulnerable to one person's mistake.

"There must be some lack of oversight. If there is one key stroke that one employee can do that can create this. We're going to ask for a third party investigation," said Trish Gorham, president of the Oakland Education Association.

Gorham says she's been besieged by calls from  nervous teachers. 

"When you have an account that is missing $2,000 or $3,000 it puts our members in a panic," said Gorham.

The school district is facing a budget crisis, but says that has nothing to do with what happened.

But the problem puts employees in a financial predicament.

"A $3,000 paycheck. You have $2,000 in rent and then they take they take the $3,000 out and you are in the red. And this could have major consequences for our own financial institutions even if it is corrected," said Litzelman.

The school district says it will reach out to various financial institutions so that employees won't be slapped with bank fees. But there still could be ramifications.

"There are financial fees that may be incurred because checks bounced. Not to mention what it could do a person's credit rating," said Gorham.

The district says it has re-issued the paychecks and should be back in the proper employee bank accounts any time now.