Open Letter to Dr. Wayne Regarding Tax Reporting Error

Posted on March 8, 2023




View the letter here or read below.


March 8, 2023

Superintendent Dr. Wayne,

Almost one year ago, San Francisco educators slept on the floors at the SFUSD central office for days to demand that they be paid properly and their benefits accurately distributed. It is frustrating that, while many issues have been addressed, SFUSD district management has again failed to uphold essential employer responsibilities by not submitting quarterly tax reports to the State of CA. UESF educators are reacting with justified outrage. A collective “when will this end?!” was felt by thousands of employees when they received an email explaining another elementary mistake by central office staff.

In your short tenure, we have witnessed many notable improvements and advancements in district management. However, another year with another set of tax mistakes is completely unacceptable. As UESF has stated, EMPOWER is not the only source of the pay issues. The entire debacle is primarily due to the decades-long neglect of the District’s basic operations. While we acknowledge the very real challenges your administration faces regarding staffing, there is also an urgent need to uproot a past culture where these detrimental mistakes were treated with indifference. As you continue building back trust, it must come with accountability and oversight.

UESF members have appreciated your level of communication and commitment to transparency. In this instance, more than communication is needed. Educators need to know what happened. How was this failure was even possible? What changes will be made to guarantee these types mistakes will not occur again?

Our union has done everything in its power to inform district management of the right steps and systemic corrections. Amid a campaign to fight for the schools our students deserve and a deep crisis for educators, students, and families, officers, and staff of UESF are using valuable time holding district management accountable. Every single mistake that members and ourselves have noticed is brought to your attention as soon as possible. We have engaged in numerous consultative meetings on mistakes to collaboratively solve issues in the interests of UESF members, and to the ultimate benefit of the district’s system corrections. Educators need to focus on educating our students, NOT management mistakes.

UESF now has three weekly standing meetings with managers in HR and Benefits to address complex cases and develop better practices in communication across departments. Our contractual committees for elementary, middle, high school, early education, and special education work MONTHLY with district management to address and resolve issues–often with a limited response on the management side. We maintain an organized list of urgent tickets we present daily to the case management team.

Finally, we always make ourselves available to Labor Relations to seek resolutions on pressing matters. Dealing with Empower issues, the vast majority resulting in violations of basic state, federal and contractual rights, should not take up so much of our union’s time. Regardless, we are committed to prioritizing the support of our members to ensure respect and dignity in this District, and they too should be able to expect that their employer is respecting their basic rights as well.

Thanks to your leadership, there are noticeable changes, but one individual cannot change this District. Every single Department Head, Director, and Executive Director must be accountable, have high standards, and be aligned with the reality of serving students, families, and educators. Students need more, parents expect better, the city wants to invest in a thriving system, and educators demand that SFUSD supports us so that we can meet the needs of our communities and achieve the schools we all deserve.

As an immediate act of good faith in support of educators, UESF demands the District:

  • Provide 1 hour personalized tax consultation for every member by the first week of April 2023.
  • Offer a clear plan and timeframe for auditing a member’s pay for the past two years if they choose before the end of this school year.

If it wasn’t clear a year ago, we want to unequivocally reiterate that UESF will continue to be relentless in our fight to win the schools our students deserve. Let us work together to promote accountability and transparency and end this current crisis around pay and benefits.