By Justin Finch
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A small group of frustrated former employees of Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter gathered outside the school Wednesday afternoon in hopes of finding out when they will be paid.
“Nobody’s given us clear and concise answers,” said Sultan Ashley, a former community outreach specialist for Palmer Charter.
Ashley, and about a handful of former staffers, stood outside the school in below-freezing temperatures to speak with front office staff they said were still inside. The workers said senior staff were still on the Northern Liberties campus to give parents student documents at the now-closed school.
“I’ve been there seven years,” Ashley added. “They have never wavered on a pay check.”
Back in October, Ashley said more than 80 of his coworkers received letters that their pay dates were changing. Last month, they another letter from Palmer Charter was mailed out with word that workers who want to cash their checks could only do so at a specific Philadelphia-area TD Bank branch.
“I was scared about being embarrassed at TD Bank, that this check was not going to be good,” recalled Vivian Texidor, who used to work in enrollment at Palmer.
Texidor and Ashley met with other former Palmer employees before arriving to the campus. They talked about stretched thin over the holidays, and the potential for more even more belt tightening that could lie ahead.
“My kids didn’t have the Christmas that we normally have, it was a struggle trying to explain to them what was going on and the reasons why,” Texidor recalled. She said she and her coworkers learned with parents and students last month that Palmer Charter would close; and one week into the New Year, Texidor said some of the Palmer staff learned they would not be paid for the month of December.
Workers told CBS 3 they also have found out that their health benefits have been retroactively cancelled. They said anyone with medical bills going back to November may have to now pay out of pocket. Because phones are now down at the Palmer N. 6th Street campus, the former staff said unemployment services can not call the school to verify employment.
“Folks are facing mortgage foreclosures, folks are being forced to have to move out of their homes that they were renting, folks have car notes,” Ashley explained.
Eyewitness News reached out to executive staff at Palmer Charter, and was not able to get a response. CBS 3 did speak with the school’s namesake, Dr. Walter Palmer. He said he will make every effort to try and get this staff paid. Workers were not so hopeful.
In late December, Palmer Charter’s Board of Trustees voted to close to school, which is deep in debt to the State and Philadelphia School Districts and bond holders. The City School District found the school was over-enrolled with a headcount of roughly 1300, when the school was only permitted 675. To comply with district standards, Palmer closed its middle school in the fall, and held a lottery for K-8 levels to trim enrollment.
The City School District has been working with parents to enroll students in area public schools.
You may also be interested in:
[display-posts category=”news” wrapper=”ul” posts_per_page=”5″]