Durham Public Schools' chief financial officer resigns amid pay dispute; interim named

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Saturday, January 27, 2024
Durham Public Schools' CFO resigns amid pay confusion, interim named
Cierra Ojijo will serve as Interim CFO beginning January 31, DPS confirms.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham Public Schools (DPS) Chief Financial Officer Paul LeSieur submitted his resignation to Superintendent Dr. Pascal Mubenga on Friday.

LeSieur's resignation comes amid pay confusion that started nearly two weeks ago. He was placed on suspension with pay while the district looked into the matter. His resignation will be effective January 31.

The dispute started after DPS said the school accidentally overpaid some employees. According to DPS, some employees received more money than they should have in their paychecks dating between July and December 2023 that were processed in the October, November, and December payroll. They said the error was due to a classified salary schedule approval that happened in October.

This led to some employees walking out of work, leaving schools understaffed and parents being asked to drive their children to school due to staff shortages. Employees have said those payments were correct and what they expected to receive after the district issued raises based on relevant work experience. However, a recent DPS policy change with how relevant work experience was calculated caused many employees to lose those raises.

According to the school district, the DPS' financial officer has been with them for 13 years.

Friday, January 12, the school system said employees impacted will be placed on the correct step on the 2023-24 school board-approved salary schedule beginning next paycheck and issued this statement:

"We are deeply sorry for this inconvenience and want our employees to know that this error was unintended and unprecedented," said Superintendent Dr. Pascal Mubenga in a release. "We are committed to working with our employees during this transition."

On Monday, January 22, the Durham Public Schools Board of Education met for hours to discuss the overpayment issue. After the meeting, DPS Board of Education Chair Bettina Umstead came out and read a statement apologizing for the pay confusion and promising that employees would be able to keep the pay they received in 2023 as well as the higher pay rate for January 2024.

Thursday, January 25, hundreds of workers with Durham Public Schools held a rally ahead of the school board meeting. Many gave passionate speeches during the public comment period of the meeting.

During the meeting, the board voted unanimously to move funds from a rainy day fund to ensure those people keep the money they were paid in the second half of 2023 and the first month of this year.

LeSieur worked for DPS for 13 years.

Cierra Ojijo, Senior Executive Director of Financial Services, will serve as Interim CFO beginning January 31, DPS confirms.