EXCLUSIVE: Part-time teachers and subs awarded $46M

EXCLUSIVE: Part-time teachers and subs awarded $46M

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On the heels of last year's $14 million settlement over back pay, two state judges have awarded substitute and part-time teachers another $46 million.

Earlier this week, Circuit Judges Karl Sakamoto and Edwin Nacino ruled that the state Department of Education underpaid the teachers over a seven-year period starting in 2005.

"What the DOE did to these teachers is really shameless," said attorney Paul Alston, who filed the class-action lawsuits.

"It makes no sense to cheat them ... over a few pennies or a few dollars a day. They're the backbone of the system."

By law, the pay for the nonunion subs and part-timers are supposed to linked to the wages full-time teachers earn under their union contracts. But the DOE wound up using a much lower pay scale for years.

Under this week's rulings, 20,000 teachers will receive an average of about $2,300. But since the awards are based on the hours worked, some teachers will receive as little as $5 while others will get up to $10,000.

Alston said many of the class-action members have struggled financially and some have left the teaching profession. Maui resident David Gardner, one of the original plaintiffs, said he was forced out.

"They more than cut my workload in half in retaliation. They put me on a blacklist. I'm still blacklisted," he said.

"I felt that they didn't really care ... they were arrogant and that they were above the law."

The rulings are also significant because the teachers were awarded interest going back seven years.

"The interest that is calculated by the court is calculated by Judge Sakamoto is nearly $14 million. In addition, there's another $9 or $10 million in interest that we think is owed," Alston said.

The DOE says it paid the teachers the correct amounts and sources said it will likely appeal. But any appeal could add millions of dollars more in interest payments.

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