Gaston County teacher stages protest after not getting paid for first week of class

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — An ongoing problem with a new payroll system is causing headaches for teachers in Gaston County, and now one teacher says she’s had enough after not getting paid for the first week of school.

Gaston County has been the beta tester for a new system that’s supposed to simplify the payment process for the state, but there were problems from the start back in January.

Valerie Shuler says her patience has run out. She says she loves teaching, but love isn’t enough to get her back to Bessemer City High School -- she’s still waiting on her first paycheck of the school year.

“I have a mortgage due on the first of the month, how do I pay my mortgage?” Shuler told Channel 9′s Ken Lemon on Monday.

Shuler said when the county moved to the new system in January, some of her checks had too many deductions. Now she’s got no check at all after the first week of class. She said she was told to go to school administrators for a handwritten check, but that didn’t work either.

“They said you are not in the pay system for a paycheck,” Shuler said.

Shuler decided enough is enough -- the engineering teacher who has been with the school system for 17 years said she hasn’t been to work since Friday.

“I got to take care of me,” Shuler said. “If that means not going to work until I get a paycheck, that’s what it’s got to be. I want to get paid and go back to the classroom. I don’t work for free.”

Hundreds of other Gaston County teachers and staff had pay issues during the first month of the new system, but just before this new school year started, a district spokesperson said he thought all of the issues had been resolved.

“Anytime you implement a new system, there are going to be bumps along the road. But we feel good about where we are,” said Todd Hagans.

The teachers who aren’t being paid say they don’t feel good about it, with Shuler saying there are still issues eight months later.

A statement from the school said they expected some problems on the first paycheck of the new year, with about 54 people impacted.

Hagans said the problems have been greatly reduced, but they acknowledge this has been frustrating. Still, Hagans said they appreciate their employees’ patience.

(WATCH BELOW: Gaston County Schools faces teacher shortages as kids return to class)