CLANTON, Ala. (WIAT) — A judge has entered a temporary restraining order against Chilton County’s school superintendent.
In a press conference in front of the Clanton County courthouse, lawyers for the Alabama Education Association said that the order by Circuit Judge Sibley G. Reynolds will prevent Superintendent Jason Griffin from changing or garnishing employee pay pending action by the court.
The order comes after the professional organization announced a lawsuit against the superintendent over letters sent to employees demanding they repay tens of thousands of dollars in money they were allegedly overpaid for years due to accounting errors.
Shellie Smith, the wife of school board member Chris Smith, is one of the two employees represented by the AEA in the suit.
Smith said that opening the letter from the school system demanding payments was “sickening.”
The letter sent to Smith and signed by the superintendent demanded that the employee of 19 years repay over $33,000 they said she was overcompensated as a result of repeated payroll errors.
Christie Payne, a lunchroom manager at Verbena High School also represented in the lawsuit, was told she owes $23,465.40, dating back to the 2016-2017 school year.
A lawyer for the AEA said at the press conference that the superintendent’s actions are “absolutely illegal.”
The employees represented by AEA in the lawsuit are not the only individuals to receive letters demanding repayments.
A bus driver who’s worked for the school system for two decades was also sent a letter. He said he has no plans to respond to the letter or repay the money.
“It’s their mistake,” he said. “Why do the little people have to pay for it?”
Efforts to reach Jason Griffin for comment on this story were unsuccessful, but the superintendent has said that he believes the system is legally required to try and recoup the alleged overpayments.
Stay with CBS 42 for updates to this story.