Earlier this year, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis promised $1,000 bonus checks for Florida teachers during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The checks have finally arrived, but some educators say their checks are bouncing, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
At least 50 teachers across the state claim they can’t cash their checks. Most of them reportedly keep getting the same response: “insufficient funds.”
Florida Department of Education spokesman Jared Ochs says a “banking error” by JPMorgan Chase is causing the mishap.
“We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused and are working to correct it, including refunding any fees incurred by the recipients as a result,” Allison Tobin Reed, the bank’s vice president of communications, said in a statement to the Times. “The impacted individuals have been identified and we are diligently working to correct this banking error expediently.”
Reed added that “a small number of people out of 176,000 payments made” but didn’t indicate how long it would take to resolve the issue.
The bonus checks for teachers were one of the few measures on DeSantis’ legislative agenda to get bipartisan support.
“Instead of sending the money to school districts to distribute, like in the past, DeSantis’ administration decided to issue the checks individually, with an accompanying letter signed by DeSantis. The state paid a private contractor $3.6 million to print and send the checks. That led some lawmakers and the union representing school teachers to accuse DeSantis of using the bonuses to score political points,” reporters explained.
Now Florida politicians are calling out the rollout of the money.
Rep. Fentrice Driskell says the state should’ve notified people about the issue before social media caught wind of it.
“If there hadn’t been any social media attention, how long would it have taken for them to tell us?” Driskell said. “To me, it is embarrassing to see a check from the state with the governor’s signature bounce. It is embarrassing.”