Fort Worth trustees OK payments to students who did work under minister’s program

08/09/2014 7:26 PM

08/09/2014 7:28 PM

School trustees approved a resolution Saturday morning to pay $8 an hour to students who performed janitorial work at campuses this summer under a program that the district said it twice told the sponsor would not be funded.

During a special meeting, the board approved a resolution by a 7-2 vote to pay the students if they complete paperwork making them interns and entitling them to retroactive compensation for their work.

There are no plans to compensate the Rev. Kyev Tatum, minister at Harmony Missionary Baptist Church, who pitched the idea for the so-called Good Hand Crew, the district said in a statement.

Trustees also directed district administrators “to consider any and all legal remedies that may be pursued against responsible parties to obtain reimbursement of the monies paid” to the students.

In comments before the vote was taken, trustees commended the students for their diligence and industry and apologized that “adult problems” complicated the situation, the district said.

On July 29, dozens of African-American parents stormed the school district offices claiming that their children were not paid for janitorial work they performed at schools under a contract with Tatum.

School district officials said Tatum was told not to implement the program after a May 26 meeting with several district officials, including former Superintendent Walter Dansby, who resigned June 2. On May 27, the district sent Tatum an email explaining that the district could not support the program, district officials said.

Tatum acknowledged receipt of the email, according to records provided to the Star-Telegram by the school district. Late on June 2, he wrote: “Wow, how do we fund it?”

Again on July 27, district administrator Art Cavazos wrote in an email to Tatum: “As my May 27th email notified you, the program was not approved in particular to your request to administer the program.”

Tatum’s program seemed worthy, but the district had concerns about underaged worker safety and liability concerns, district officials said July 29. In addition, it was determined in May that the maintenance department could not fund the program.

“We’re caught in the middle now,” district spokesman Clint Bond said at the time. “We have someone who unfortunately proceeded with the program that he was advised not to do and now we are in the position of telling us that we owe these children more money than we pay our own part-time people.”

Bond said the children are owed a total of about $60,000.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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