Richmond School Superintendent responds to double-dipping claims

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)—Opinions within city seem mixed about allegations of double-dipping within city school system.

Thursday’s investigation to retirees working in the Richmond Public School system caught the attention of some school budget task force members who are currently working to close the school’s $24 million budget shortfall.

“I think their practice of long term retirees is one thing they ought to be looking at,” said Suzette Denslow, member of the School Accountability and Efficiency Task Force hired by the city to find the best places to make cuts.

CBS 6 Reporter Catie Beck caught up with Superintendent Yvonne Brandon as she left today’s meeting.

She declined to do an interview for our initial report on possible double dipping by school retirees. [READ the initial investigative report: Government employees double-dipping with pension and temp paychecks]

On Monday she gave a few minutes of her time to answer questions. Brandon was quick to defend the district’s use of retirees back in the system, citing their career history working in Richmond Public Schools.

“Their expertise is invaluable, they have the training and the dedication needed to support us in those areas,” said Brandon.

City leaders have raised questions both before and after our report that focused on how long retirees remain in the school system after retirement.

CBS 6 discovered that some employees had stayed in the system several years and made hundreds of thousands of dollars in income, all while still eligible to collect a pension.

Mayor Dwight Jones spoke about our report Friday and said issues raised in the story warranted more investigation. [Web Extra: Mayor Jone’s responds to investigative report]

We asked Brandon to respond to that claim.

“The mayor has his opinion on it we have not talked and I hope to talk to the mayor soon so we can get on one accord,” she said.

But still some members of the budget task force insist review is in order.

“I would be surprised if it wasn’t a high priority for them,” said Denslow.

We asked Brandon to respond to the part of our report that mentioned her current Chief of Staff. We learned that while in retirement he had earned close to $400,000 dollars of income in a little more than three and a half years.

Brandon claimed she could not get in to the specifics of his earnings because it falls under internal personnel regulations.

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