PRESS RELEASE – OCTOBER 25, 2023
AEA Media Contact:
Kynesha Brown, AEA Public Relations Manager
Clanton, Alabama – The lawsuit filed by the Alabama Education Association (AEA) on behalf of Chilton County Schools employees Christie Payne and Shellie Smith was settled before trial began today at the Chilton County Courthouse in Clanton, Alabama. Because of the settlement terms, they can move forward with their lives and serve the students of Chilton County.
Today's settlement is not only a significant win for Ms. Payne and Ms. Smith but for all educators who have been accused of being overpaid and made to repay their employers. It has been a pleasure for the AEA to represent these great women, who have endured so much throughout this nearly two-year lawsuit where they simply sought to protect their rights. It is the intent of the AEA always to protect members like Ms. Payne and Ms. Smith, who have been forced to pay for school boards’ errors.
AEA President Dr. Susan Williams Brown said, “This is a great win for Ms. Payne and Ms. Smith, and a huge win for all AEA members. This shows only AEA is there to fight for educators when it matters most, and we are ready to assist them when they need us.”
AEA agrees with Governor Kay Ivey’s July 23, 2022, statement that “[i]f a mistake is made by the government, people should not have to pay the price for something that was no fault of their own.” This applies to school employees like Ms. Payne and Ms. Smith, who should not be the victim of their employer’s negligence.
Superintendent Clements has the right to pursue a realignment of Ms. Payne and Ms. Smith’s salaries. Should Superintendent Clements choose to do so, the AEA will vigorously fight any efforts to lower Ms. Payne and Ms. Smith’s salaries before the Chilton County Board of Education. Ms. Payne and Ms. Smith are truly relieved and happy they can finally put this long episode behind them and focus on serving their students.