How we got here: A timeline of DPS' ongoing challenges

Josh Chapin Image
Thursday, February 1, 2024
How we got here: A timeline of DPS' ongoing challenges
It's only been two and half weeks since problems started with Durham Public Schools but it feels like much longer.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's only been two and a half weeks since problems started with Durham Public Schools.

It began the Friday before the Dr. Martin Luther King holiday weekend when some staff got more money in their paychecks and had been getting extra money in the second half of 2023.

The district said it was because they were overpaid and they needed to correct that issue but days later ABC11 discovered it was more than just that.

Durham Public Schools' Chief Financial Officer was suspended. Then days later, the classified staff didn't show up, which meant schools could not operate regularly.

On Jan. 18, parents were forced for a second consecutive day to find another way to get their children to school. That issue then extended to a third day.

A week later, on Jan. 22, the chair of the Durham School Board apologized and vowed to make things right for employees.

On Jan. 25, the board voted to use money from the rainy day fund balance to ensure those staffers could keep the money they got including into January of 2024.

Also that day, DPS Chief Financial Officer Paul LeSieur submitted his resignation.

The back and forth continued Wednesday, though with the sick-out and two rallies across the district as educators walked out in solidarity with the other staffers.

"They take care of our children, so of course they should get paid more," said Jessica Hunt, who has two children in DPS.

Luckily, she said Parkwood Elementary has functioned normally throughout the last two and half weeks.

"The people we rely on for the safety of our kids going to school should get paid more," she said. "They serve our kids food, make sure they eat throughout the day. It's just a lot going on."

Durham's interim CFO started Wednesday as well.

On Friday the board will again convene to figure out ways to regain the staff's trust.

The school district told ABC11 that 33 schools were impacted by the absence of 26 school bus drivers on Monday. The salary issue is one reason drivers say they aren't showing up, DPS says.