Teachers at Women's Prison Complain State Not Paying Them

Annette Priesman
Annette Priesman
Derek Galanto
Derek Galanto
Tommy Johnson
Tommy Johnson

KAILUA (KHNL) - For almost three months now, several instructors at the Hawaii women's prison say they've been working solely for the love of the job. The state admits it hasn't paid them.

Some of these teachers talked story with KHNL News 8, which helped resolve their problem.

One teacher says she's due about $3,500 in back pay, but our calls prompt a solution to this work-for-free dilemma, plus changes, so something like this doesn't happen again.

Working at the women's prison may not sound like a dream job, but that's exactly how some teachers describe it.

"I love my job here," said Annette Priesman, an instructor at the prison. "It's the best job I've ever had. These ladies, are the most appreciative students you can ever imagine."

But the last ten weeks have been a struggle for six instructors here, because they say the state hasn't paid them.

"I'm diggin into my savings account," said instructor Derek Galanto. "I'm swiping my visa card, and I'm just gonna have to hang in there."

"We are still expected to come and teach," said Priesman. "We turn in our invoice at the end of every month."

Tommy Johnson, the Deputy Director of Corrections says that's part of the problem. These teachers are contract workers who are supposed to turn in an invoice every two weeks, versus once a month.

"It shouldn't have happened initially, and we've put controls in place now to make sure it doesn't happen in the future," said Johnson.

Changes including explaining to contract workers what they need to do, so they get paid on time.

And the teachers can do the job they're supposed to.

"Because they need us," said Priesman. "These students need teachers more than any kind of student there is in Hawaii."

State officials call the situation unfortunate. But they say they have worked everything out, and the teachers will be paid for their work by Friday.