Chicago Public Schools has failed to have all of its clerks complete timekeeper system training in its previously specified timeframe. It also has not produced a quarterly audit of its timekeeping practices so far, despite indicating it would begin one in January.
The district confirmed with Chalkboard Review that some clerks have yet to receive training on the district’s timekeeping software, and it has not yet released an audit of extended day pay practices despite saying it would following a watchdog report released in January showing how employees had used the system fraudulently.
The district had previously said in response to a report by the Office of Inspector General for the Chicago Board of Education that it would begin training clerks on the “Timekeeper and Supplemental Payment System” by Jan. 31 and require training completion by Feb. 24.
But Chicago Public School confirmed this week that 29 clerks have yet to complete the training, and have been blocked from accessing the system until they do so. The district told Chalkboard Review that out of 540 clerks, 511 have completed the mandatory Timekeeper training.
According to a current job posting for a CPS school clerk position, electronic payment processing is an essential job function. A school clerk “processes and prepares payrolls for school personnel, both manually and by operating computerized timekeeping and payroll equipment,” the posting said.
School clerks in the 2019-20 school year who had contracts under the Chicago Teachers Union Local 1 saw salaries starting at $58,500 and going up to $107,100.
“As a district, we take seriously our responsibility to serve all Chicago Public Schools families with integrity,” Samantha Hart, a spokesperson for the district, told Chalkboard Review. “CPS continues to evaluate our policies and procedures to ensure they support the highest ethical standards and that our valued team members act in the best interest of our students.”
The inspector general report found that schools and departments were spending atypically large amounts on “Extra Pay,” payment for work beyond a regular day.
In looking into the increase, the CPS Office of the Inspector General found that district employees would clock in and clock out for other employees, known as “buddy punching,” including one incident where a teacher’s colleagues punched him in while he stayed home during summer school.
In another case, the report found that an employee who received almost $150,000 in Extra Pay and other supplemental pay over four years was clocked in at his school as working while casino records indicated he was not. He was also paid for working two jobs at the same time.
“Paper timesheets that are supposed to be maintained by schools to document Extra Pay mysteriously disappeared during OIG fraud investigations,” the report also found.
In response to one of the report’s recommendations to better monitor Extra Pay payments, CPS said in January that it was “hoping Extra Pay audits, due to start in January, will help officials define ‘excessive’ Extra Pay so they can conduct more robust Extra Pay audits.”
But when asked to provide a quarterly audit on the subject, the district said it has “no quarterly audits to provide at this time.”
CPS says that since the report’s release, it has made changes to student worker clock-in and clock-out systems, updated guidelines for summer school, updated guidelines for extended day payments and has new guidelines for stipend payments.