A retired teacher says he's paying the price for a mistake the Delano Joint Union High School District made.
Gerald Saunders says the district reported more than his base salary to the state when he retired. After an audit, the state is making him pay back more than $47,000.
Saunders has kept every letter from the California State Teachers Retirement System. The first one arrived in March informing him he'd been receiving too much in his retirement checks.
"It was a blow," said Saunders of the news. "I mean, it bothers us mentally more than anything else because we think, 'why did this happen?'"
Saunders had been a teacher for 42 years, 23 with the Delano Joint Union High School District as a science and math teacher, athletic director, and basketball coach.
He retired in 2008. Calstrs told Saunders a recent audit of the Delano Joint Union High School District revealed the district added his extra duty pay for what he did beyond the school day when turning in his retirement wages.
That shouldn't have been included.
In a letter, Calstrs let Gerald know not only would he be getting $900 less every month, but 5 percent of what was left would have to go towards paying back $47,000 he'd been overpaid. All together, it slices over $1,200 from his monthly retirement.
"I just don't understand. I wasn't responsible for this," said Saunders. "If I signed a paper saying this is correct information, then I'm responsible like income tax. But I didn't know what they turned in. I just trusted them."
Saunders says he knows of at least two other retired teachers from the district that got similar letters. He's contacted the district in hopes they'd foot the bill for their error.
"They just told me they made an error and they are trying to correct it," said Saunders.
Calstrs has told Saunders they are just doing its job. But Gerald says after paying taxes on the money he's now paying back and decades of educating, he shouldn't be the one learning the hard way.
"After you teach 42 years, you figure, well I deserve this. I've put my time in and this and that. So, I kind of feel like I don't deserve this," said Saunders.
A spokesperson for Calstrs said the recent audit of the district between July 2006 to June of 2009 turned up nine reported errors for retired teachers, and five errors in active teachers.
17News tried calling the school district today but our calls were not returned.
Gerald and another teacher are working on getting a hearing in front of Calstrs in Sacramento.