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Contractor Linked to Teacher Payroll Fiasco Gets Another $2.7M From San Francisco Unified

Written by Ida MojadadPublished Jun. 29, 2022 • 10:07am
Teachers and Union representatives protest a widespread teacher payroll issue outside SFUSD headquarters on Match 14, 2022 in San Francisco, Calif. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

The payroll company linked to a fiasco that triggered over 1,000 cases of missing wages, cut benefits and tax errors for teachers earlier this year landed another $2.7 million to continue its contract with the San Francisco Unified School District.

The Board of Education OK’d the contract extension with Infosys just after midnight on Wednesday.

SFUSD staff requested the latest extension to buy six additional months of stabilization support while it continues to learn and identify what’s needed long term to manage basic HR and payroll functions. The blunder led to a four-day occupation of SFUSD headquarters by union leaders for urgent action in March.

The approval extends the contract from February to June 2023, for a total cost of $16.5 million. 

The original contract—one that an expert told The Standard may have been flawed or incomplete—amounted to $9.5 million through January 2021. 

Superintendent Vincent Matthews talks with Cassondra Curiel in SFUSD HQ on March 14, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

SFUSD switched payroll systems to one called EMPowerSF in January 2022, setting off a litany of paycheck errors that dragged on for months with an uncertain end in sight. There are currently about 200 cases of varying issues the payroll team is working to resolve, SFUSD Head of Technology Melissa Dodd said.

“We’re able to address them, and then more come up,” Dodd told commissioners at the Tuesday board meeting. “It’s a bit of a moving target.”

The switch left teachers, like one who was paid just $208 for all of February, feeling disrespected as they attempted to calculate errors, paid out of pocket for inaccessible insurance, borrowed money to pay rent, and were hit with late fees and damaged credit scores. 

For some, it was the last straw to leave the district. Errors remain a problem for contributions toward retirement, one teacher reminded the board on Tuesday.

“It’s really stressful and a lot of time devoted,” Susie Seigel said during public comment on Tuesday. “We work hard to make sure we provide for ourselves and [retirement accounts] are still a mess. We want to be able to trust our paycheck.”

Infosys, the vendor, did not have a contractual responsibility to remedy errors and was not responsible for migrating data from the old system to EMPower SF, an SF Standard analysis found. The district does not fault Infyosys and chalked it up to lack of staffing and preparation

The board on Tuesday also approved an agreement with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 6 “regarding payroll errors,” one that mirrors the agreement made with the United Administrators of San Francisco as a result of the office takeover.

Employees await interest on late pay or repayment of late fees incurred by the errors as required by the agreement.

Dodd told commissioners that the team would launch a program audit in July for review in October.

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