Local Teachers Being Paid While Not Teaching?

Dozens of teachers in the San Diego Unified School District are getting paid but are not teaching, 10News reported.

While the teachers are on paid administrative leave, 10News has learned that taxpayers are picking the bill.

"Some of the cases that go on for months and even years … they're just ridiculous," said former teacher Russell Buckley.

Some teachers have been accused of a crime or inappropriate behavior. Depending on the accusations, employees still get a paycheck during the investigation.

Buckley said it is a waste of taxpayer money.

"The people making the negotiations -- the administration and the teachers -- neither one of them has to pay that money, so they're playing with our money," said Buckley.

Even when wrongdoing is proven, school districts are rarely reimbursed for the money they pay to employees while allegations are investigated.

Former San Diego Creative and Performing Arts teacher John Kyujoon Lee was convicted of statutory rape, but was paid his $64,000 yearly salary for more than five months while his case was tried.

"Every day the teachers are in this limbo status at taxpayers' expenses; one more day than it should be," said Buckley.

According to district records obtained by 10News, one teacher was paid more than $54,000 a year for 5 years. The district was not available to answer why this employee was paid for so long or why she was on administrative leave.

"The idea of this thing dragging out for months and years doesn't make any sense to me at all," said Buckley.

In the 2008-09 school year, the district paid out more than $700,000 in paid administrative leave.

Former school district attorney Melanie Petersen said the district's hands are somewhat tied because of California laws.

"So if you're charged with a particular crime and it's not on that list, the district cannot put you on unpaid leave," said Petersen.

Petersen said she even tried to amend the list but was quickly met with opposition from the California Teachers Union.

10News' calls to the teachers union were not returned.