School Lunch Lady Has To Pay Back Over $23,000 After Being Paid The Wrong Salary For Years


Getting a promotion is usually a good thing. You are rewarded for your hard work with more responsibility and a bigger paycheck.

Getting a promotion for Christie Payne seemed like a good thing at the time, but six years later, she’s not really too happy with how everything has worked out.

Back in 2016, Payne was promoted from an assistant manager to a manager by Chilton County Schools. Including these six years since her promotion, she has worked in the lunch room at Verbana High School for 18 years. 

Then, one day in April 2022, Payne received a letter in the mail from the school district. She was surprised by the letter, and not in a good way. The letter informed Payne that, “A review of financial records reveals that you were overpaid by Chilton County Board of Education” in the amount of $23, 465.40.

This was far from just an informational letter. The letter informed her that she needed to repay the overpayment amount and proposed three ways for her to repay the money. She could either repay it in one lump sum, pay $3,910.90 once a year for six years or have $325.91 deducted from each paycheck for 72 months. The letter, which was signed by superintendent Jason Griffin, also informed Payne that she needed to respond to the Finance Department within 7 days.

Christie Payne

Payne was shocked at the letter. She said, “I had no idea this was happening. Now I have seven days to fix a six-year mistake made by the payroll department.”

Watch the video below to hear more about this story and to hear what Payne did after reading the letter.


More than a month after receiving the letter, the Chilton school district and the Alabama Education Association (AEA) met in court. While the issue was not resolved, the superintendent did agree not to pursue repayment of the overpayment until the matter is settled in court. 

While the superintendent’s lawyer did not comment on the situation, AEA Associate Executive Director Theron Stokes commented, “We feel confident about our position. We welcome our day in court. We want our day in court.”

Meanwhile, Payne is still feeling the pain from the possibility that she might have to repay money she was overpaid due to no fault of her own. She explained, “I pace the floor. I cry. I just don’t know what to do. You can’t plan anything because you are afraid to spend any money because you don’t know if you’re going to have it.”