Former Portland School Board Chair on Payroll Debacle: I’m Sorry

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Former Portland Board of Education director Emily Figdor offered an apology to members of the Portland school community over the ongoing payroll debacle in a special letter to the Portland Press Herald over the weekend.

“I want to offer my deepest apology to every Portland Public Schools staff member for the breakdown of our payroll system,” said Figdor.

“I am writing today as an individual member of the Portland Board of Education, not on its behalf,” she said.

Figdor, a long-time progressive activist in Portland, made her apology following a series of blunders that caused the Portland school system to underpay and overpay hourly employees.

In the letter, Figdor sought to shift blame onto previous school officials over an accounting software system she says was not set up correctly.

“How did we get here? I frankly don’t fully understand yet,” she said. “Several years ago, the district moved to a new software system, MUNIS, which the city also uses, and it was not set up correctly.”

She also disputed earlier Press Herald reporting that showed she had rejected help from city of Portland officials.

The city of Portland uses the same accounting software and has not had the same issues as the school system.

Although Figdor stopped short of taking responsibility for the payroll flub, she did praise Portland school educators and sought to place the missed paychecks into context.

“It also comes nearly three years into the COVID-19 pandemic – the hardest years in the careers of many, if not most, of our educators,” she said. “And it comes amid a backlash against public schools for seeking to honor the identities of all of our students and staff, create belonging and teach history accurately and honestly.”

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