CMS unemployment battles end amid budget talks

CMS unemployment battles end amid budget talks

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by BILL McGINTY / NewsChannel 36 Staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @billwcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on April 9, 2012 at 4:34 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 10 at 6:59 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is getting ready to present its budget proposal for the 2012-2013 school year this week as last year’s budget debacle is still fresh in the minds of teacher assistants who were fired.

Connie Jerman and her colleague, Arlene Trefil, were both terminated June 15, 2011 as a result of budget cuts.

Both Jerman and Trefil applied for unemployment and began receiving benefits in July. In August, they received letters stating that they would be rehired and should report to school on August 18.

Shortly after, both women received letters from the North Carolina Employment Security Commission saying they had to pay their unemployment benefits back.

Over the next six months, both Jerman and Trefil fought CMS saying they were entitled to the unemployment because they were in fact terminated. CMS maintained that Trefil and Jerman were 10-month employees and had no right to file for unemployment benefits so soon.

Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattbaugh, said, “But if you’re a 10-month employee, I wouldn’t think you’d go for unemployment until the start of the school year if you were not rehired back.”

By January 2012, the state had sided with the teachers and CMS dropped their challenges to the benefits.

But was the unemployment debacle the end result of a CMS budget threat to cut staff in order to get millions from Mecklenburg County?

County Commissioner Bill James recently tweeted that “CMS lied” and misled the County’s Board of Commissioners in an effort to get more money. Commissioner Jim Pendergraph also says CMS misled the county to get a bigger budget.

CMS communications told NewsChannel 36 that the district did no such thing.

The newest round of budget talks for the upcoming school year begins this week.
 

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