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After payroll snafu deprived several teachers of pay, a top district administrator to resign

SFUSD Superintendent Vincent Matthews holds the box of letters written in response to missing and incomplete paychecks on March 14, 2022. | Camille Cohen

A top administrator in the San Francisco Unified School District who played a key role in the botched rollout of a new payroll system will resign, The Standard has learned.

Myong Leigh, deputy superintendent of policy and operations, plans to give up his position at the end of the school year on June 30, he wrote in an email to SFUSD leadership late Monday afternoon. 

The two-decade veteran of SFUSD was on the team that led a transition from the district’s old payroll system to a new one, called EMPowerSF, which resulted in more than 1,000 reported cases of underpayment, missing and incorrect paychecks. Many also report wrong or changed tax deductions and retirement contributions.

Leigh did not immediately respond to a request for comment. An SFUSD staffer since 2000, he oversaw business services, policy and planning, facilities, information technology, enrollment, and student nutrition. 

“Needless to say, the last few years have been particularly challenging,” Leigh said in the email obtained by The Standard. “I feel incredibly lucky to have achieved many successes, while also growing and learning from setbacks, alongside you and in your midst.”

United Educators of San Francisco, SFUSD’s teachers’ union, said the issues with pay and withholdings have yet to be completely fixed—estimating there are, so far, about three dozen known new cases stemming from pay day last week. 

The EMPowerSF fiasco began in January, but by February’s end, even as reports of incorrect payment mounted, the district appeared to be doing little to fix the problem, teachers said. That’s when the UESF organized a three-night occupation of district headquarters. Over the course of the steady protest, Leigh was repeatedly cited in complaints about what educators perceived to be a lack of urgency from the district. One union leader called for him to resign, while another said his role in payroll and budgeting was hard to overlook.

The issue goes farther back to the district’s 2019 contract with Infosys. A professional assessment of the contract with EMPowerSF suggested that the district did not properly define what was needed to ensure a smooth transition by the vendor, The Standard previously reported

A report on the payroll troubles is scheduled for Wednesday at 5 p.m. at 555 Franklin St.