Lawyer: teachers entitled to furlough pay - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Lawyer: teachers entitled to furlough pay

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by Michele Catahay

Guam - Hoping a third time is a charm, the Guam Federation of Teachers filed litigation in the Superior Court of Guam against the Department of Education in yet another attempt to force the agency to pay what's owed to close to 2,000 teachers.  The GFT contends seven years is long enough and its time for the Department of Education to pay up.

The union is asking the court to force DOE to pay 1,800 teachers the money owed to them when they temporarily furloughed for two weeks in 2003 because the start of the school year was delayed by the Guam Education Policy Board.  The GFT won their case in the Civil Service Commission that same year, and again in 2006 when it went up on appeal in the Superior Court. 

GFT Attorney Robert Kutz said, "The motions we are filing today are to ask the court to issue new orders to compel the government to obey and the court has some very extensive powers to do that. The time for argument is over.  The Department of Education does not have the opportunity to litigate this thing all over again. It's already been done three times."

Kutz is asking Presiding Judge Alberto Lamorena to compel the government do what it has already been ordered to do. He believes DOE owes these teachers approximately $5 million today, which includes accrued interest and other fees.

"They're entitled to this payment, they're entitled to a certain amount of interest, they're entitled to recovered penalties if the government fails to act willfully and fails to do what they're supposed to do and there are provisions for attorney's fees, as well. It is ordered that all of these things will be done," he said.

Guam Education Policy Board Chairperson Ron Ayuyu says he was on the board in 2003 and thought the teachers were paid.  "One way or another we're going to have to find funding for it. We just have to look at our budget," he said.  "I strongly feel that it was included in the supplemental budget but I'm not too sure if it was removed from the last supplemental budget, but we can verify from Taling Taitano and that's what we're doing right now and we're going to ask the superintendent what the status is on that."

As for reaction from DOE Superintendent Dr. Nerissa Bretania Underwood, she said it's premature to comment.

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