Gilbert Public Schools: The Great Wage Theft Caper Continues

Another New Year, another disaster in Gilbert Public Schools — this time, for failing to pay employees all they are owed for the work they have done. A new board is now responsible for superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s management failures, which include unconstrained wage theft. Citizens anxiously await the election of a new board president on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 for the signal that the GPS Governing Board will do their jobs and hold public employees accountable for their failures … or not. 

We all know that Silly Jilly Humherys is salivating at the prospects of being elected board president. She believes that all her Arizona School Board Association schmoozing entitles her to be board president — “Hey, guys, I got another certificate for attending an ASBA event (at GPS expense)! They like me, they really like me!!!” Silly Jilly Humpherys, whose nose is dark brown and stinky from puppy-dogging Kishimoto around to events at every opportunity, never got elevated to BFF status, in spite of her proclivity for sanctimoniously pontificating in favor of anything Kishimoto wanted during a board meeting. Karma.

The important thing about Silly Jilly Humpherys’ history is that it appears she never questioned anything that her position as GPS governing board clerk required her to oversee. As a result, GPS administrators have run wild, knowing they never will be held accountable for anything they do. Example: in 2016, Christina Kishimoto not only received her five-figure *performance pay* bonus, she had her contract renewed a year early and was awarded a blank check for spending millions of dollars on the GCA/MJHS campus boondoggle and other unnamed extravaganzas. That’s what has been passing as *accountability* in GPS.

Benito Mussolini’s fascist governance famously was defended because “he made the trains run on time.” Kishimoto hasn’t performed the basic functions of managing an entity of 5,000 employees … like paying those employees properly. Two years ago, Kishimoto demanded $1.3 Million for new software to do human resources and payroll functions. A year ago, Kishimoto’s incompetent minions rammed full-steam ahead to implementing that new payroll system, which has never functioned properly.

The Great Payday Melee continues unabated today, and has morphed into undeniable wage theft. Employees are shorted dollars in their paychecks for many reasons, but Kishimoto couldn’t be bothered to “make the payroll on time” … and Her Three Votes on the GPS board didn’t care. “BFD,” they shrugged.

The latest GPS payroll *system failure* screwed up income taxes on top of the other many failures to pay employees properly. An email from a gal who holds three positions (GPS School Nutrition Services, Payroll Tech, NSLP Secretary) in the White Castle explained to GPS employees:

There was a system error on paychecks whose Federal Exemptions were anything but “0” (zero). For example if your Federal tax withholding is Single or Married with ‘0’ Exemptions then your paycheck contains no tax errors. If your Federal tax withholding is Single or Married with 1 or more Exemptions then an error was made, too much taxes was withheld. [No editing: Westie couldn’t make up this stuff.]

One of the new board members works with compliance issues in his day job; another has been a school district superintendent, presumably responsible for making the payroll. Perhaps these two can figure out the issues associated with failing to pay employees properly for a year … blaming it on the *software* or the *system* doesn’t count. Neither does *reorganizing business services.* Nope, can’t blame it on not having enough employees to do the job, either … the White Castle is bursting at the seams with administrative employees. Bonus points for anyone who can figure out exactly how many people are employed in the White Castle!

How long will the new board allow this to continue? Has the co-opting already begun? Here’s an alarming hint of what’s to come: in the long, long tradition of giving out awards when GPS admins feel their job security is threatened, Kishimoto has thrown a bone to the new board. From her December 16, 2016 board brief:

ASBA Conference
We had a great opportunity last week on Thursday and Friday to connect at the ASBA conference and to enjoy several sessions together. It was also great to have Jill, Charlie, Lori and Sheila attend the session on governance that I co-presented with my colleague from Buckeye Elementary School.* As we go into the new calendar year, let’s talk about the requirements from ASBA to have our governance team recognized as a Golden Award winner.

The question is, will the new board make sure GPS employees are paid on time? Paying employees all that they are owed for the work they have performed for the district is a basic administrative function. Kishimoto has failed. Worse, she created a *ticket system* to make it appear she has things under control, bragging that her new *ticket system* brought the numbers down from over 900 in August 2016. This artifice succeeds only if you believe that having 97 new tickets opened the week before December 16, 2016 is acceptable.

“There ought to be a law,” abused employees cry; fact is, there are laws about wage theft and other nefarious schemes employers use to take advantage of their employees. The public isn’t buying that GPS payroll and associated tax reporting, withholding and remittances have been a mess for the past year, but it’s no one’s fault. The public sees clearly that these aren’t *tickets* to be cavalierly dismissed … these are employees who have not been paid properly for the past year. Pay them! Asking banks to forgive GPS employee overdrafts is not sufficient.

Oh yeah, don’t forget about overtime, which has been in a mess for years, but really, since only the lowest level of support staffers are paid hourly, no one seems to have cared. Silly Jilly Humpherys already posted on Facebook that those employees have to *be patient* as they await their new minimum wage salary payments. Apparently, Silly Jilly expects them to wait for years while she tries to do the math:

Happy New Year! Best wishes for peace and prosperity in 2017! … Congrats to a number of our staff who will receive a raise due to the increase in the minimum wage. You work really hard! Please be patient and understanding as we make challenging decisions the next few years to fund those increases.

That’s marginally better than when Silly Jilly Humpherys compared GPS staff to idiots who should work at Walmart:

We’ll be looking at you, board members elected in November 2016, because that’s what Westie does.

Big Fat Asterisk: Westie made a public records request for the documents Kishimoto used in that presentation at the ASBA conference on “Effective Governance Models.” Is it any surprise that GPS hasn’t produced those notes and slides? Business as usual under the new board? Stay tuned!

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