DeKalb Schools Approves TSA Settlement

This morning the DeKalb Schools Board of Education approved a settlement in the GOLD case (Tax Shelter Annuity – TSA Case) for $117.5 million over a 5 year period.

Principal Terms of Approved Settlement

$117.5 million settlement will be subject to the preliminary and final approval of the court.

Increment payments are: First payment of $27.5 million payable at the conclusion of the court approval process and expiration of the appeals deadline. The initial payment is followed by 4 annual payments of $22.5 million due on the anniversary of the first payment.

Moving forward, the attorneys will submit pleadings to the court for preliminary approval. Notice will be sent to the prospective class members. The court will need to deliberate on the reasonableness of the settlement and make a final decision.

It is likely that prospective class members will be notified in 30 to 60 days with instructions on how to proceed.

Message From Barnes Law Group

The settlement is subject to approval by the Court, and the parties are preparing papers to submit to the Court for preliminary approval. If approved, more information will be provided for those who may qualify as members of the class.

History of TSA

2009 – The DeKalb County School District stopped payment on TSA, a supplemental retirement fund for district employees. (Note: The TSA is separate and apart from the TRS) Plaintiffs claim this was in direct violation of the contract the district agreed to and resulted in the loss of millions of dollars for district employees.

2017 – Judge Gregory Adams of the Superior Court of DeKalb County dismissed the employees’ lawsuit entirely and withheld ruling on class certification. Plaintiffs appealed.

June 1, 2018 The Georgia Court of Appeals issued an Opinion that
1) overturned the dismissal of Plaintiffs’ claims;
2) determined that the District is liable as a matter of law for breaching its legal duty to the employees;
3) ruled the Plaintiffs were entitled to judgment on liability in their favor, with only issues of damages calculations remaining for trial by jury; and
4) ruled that the trial court must reconsider class certification in light of the Gold III Opinion.

Oct 21, 2019 – The Supreme Court of Georgia ruled in favor of DeKalb County teachers and school employees. While the Supreme Court didn’t agree with the findings of the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court did agree with their conclusion saying, “we agree with the Court of Appeals, albeit for somewhat different reasons, that the trial court erred in granting Appellants’ motion for summary judgment and in denying Appellees’ motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability for breach of contract.”

For more detailed information, the 2017 Summary Judgement goes into the factual details of the case. The TSA – Tax Sheltered Annuity Summary is a laymen’s view of TSA and the Gold Case

79 responses to “DeKalb Schools Approves TSA Settlement

  1. Elaine Gold and Amy Shaye deserve so much credit for pursuing this to the end. Thank you both for your perseverance. This is a necessary step to allow a new superintendent begin work without this looming in the background.
    Former superintendent Crawford Lewis, the man responsible for this fiasco- the gift that keeps on giving.

  2. Loren George

    Thank you Elaine Gold and Amy Shaye for all your hard work and perseverance. Without you the teachers would have nothing. It always take great female leaders to get things done! Thanks again!!!

  3. Still Waiting

    What does this mean for the teachers? Are we getting a lump sum individually? Are they going to reimburse our TSA?

  4. Dennis Watkins

    Good Afternoon! Congratulations to the young ladies who were persistent. Job well done.

  5. Andrea Chait

    Thank You to all the good folks who worked hard to make sure Dekalb County employees get what is owed them!

  6. Hmm…you wrote me this morning on a different section of your blog that you didn’t have any updates on the Gold case? I guess you did.

  7. If the Board had continued regular annual TSA contributions from 2009 to present, would it have spent roughly more or less than this legal settlement amount?

  8. Stan Jester

    @John A, My back of the napkin calculation … it is (very roughly) 3 years of TSA contributions plus legal fees.

  9. Vanessa Thompson

    Thank you, Elaine and Amy!

  10. dekalbteacher

    Good question, John A!

    How much will this past problem also affect the budget, current employees, and students?

    Educator, you might want to see when Ramona Tyson took over the first time around.

  11. Stan Jester

    @DeKalbTeacher, How much is this going to affect the budget? $27.5 million for FY2021 and $22.5 million a year for the following 4 years.

  12. Dana Price

    You’ve done an outstanding job speaking on behalf of ALL of us effected. Thanks so much!

  13. Stan Jester

    @Ruby. A number of people were asking about the Gold case yesterday. At that time, there were no public updates I could make. The board met this morning and we decided to publicly vote on the settlement. I shared the information on my blog as quickly as I could. –Stan

  14. Well, then the Board saved roughly eight years of TSA contributions (minus legal fees). That means its abdication of fiduciary and ethical duties was a winning strategy. Proof again that crime does pay.

    Stan Jester wrote:
    My back of the napkin calculation … it is (very roughly) 3 years of TSA contributions plus legal fees.

  15. Been a long time coming, thank you ladies for staying in the trenches, however I have concerns about the Payout numbers. I was under the impression for years the county payed roughly 26.5 million in to the Board TSA. The bottom fell out in 2009 which would have payed about 234 million to date to eligible employee’s. The 27.5 million increments payment is what all eligible employees would have received total in a year anyway, if this would have never happen, 117 million over 5 years just don’t add up to me. Thanks again ladies for your Courageous effort, hope the county will do the right thing this time around.

  16. Stan Jester

    Hello Anthony, My back of the napkin calculation … it is (very roughly) 3 years of TSA contributions plus legal fees. –Stan

  17. How much money did the board spend fighting this battle as opposed to doing the right thing and paying the money when the charges were brought forth? You have only told us how much the settlement payments will be.
    Thank you, Elaine and Amy for persevering on behalf of the educators.
    A lot of complainers don’t understand that the BOE took employees out of the social security system with the guarantee of an alternate retirement supplement. When the payments on our behalf stopped, there was no social security either.

  18. Stan Jester

    DeKalb Schools has spent over $2 million in the last 12 months alone and over $14 million total between their original and current firms. Go to expenditures at for the exact amount Lawrence and Bundy has cost the district. You can also go to the board financial reports. There is a vendor spend report that lists all the checks the school district has cut vendors for that fiscal year.

  19. Can you explain which retirement account that they were using?

  20. Deborah Lyde

    Inform me by email

  21. Stan Jester

    Angela, I don’t understand the question. –Stan

  22. Frustrated & Weary Educator

    Good Deal,
    Thank You so much ladies for being a voice for the masses. Sometime we feel as though our voices are not being heard. Again Thank You.

  23. Hi Stan,
    Of course. As I thought about it, It makes perfect sense that you couldn’t go public. I just got a bit paranoid…Thank you for taking the time to write back.

    I wish you the best with the new Superintendent. I’m so grateful you have stuck with Dekalb through the thick and thin of it. It’s been so hard to keep the district accountable for their actions and you hold them to the fire. It isn’t easy and you are so appreciated for doing it.

    You really are quite a remarkable person to serve the district during a pandemic and this time of unrest.

    Thank you so much for your service to Dekalb County Schools.

  24. Connie Buckelew

    Thank you Elaine Gold and Amy Shaye for all your hard work and perseverance for so many years. We are all so proud of you.

    Will all of those who were working in DeKalb during this time frame be eligible to be a part of the class action? If so, is there a provision for what we need to do?

    Thank you, Stan Jester, for your service to DeKalb Schools.

  25. Rugmani Ruby Nayar

    I was one of the teachers affected. When will we get paid and how much ?
    Thank you ladies for working at it and not giving up. I tried for a while.

  26. Thanks you to the team of Gold and Shaye who fought for all of us. I appreciate that you did for all of us, what many of us did not have the means to do for us. I am so glad to hear this great news, especially after listening to the Board Meeting on yesterday where I learned that removing the ISS position was on all of the budget plan selections. I am an ISS, who understood that these were year to year positions. However, I would have liked to have some notice of intent to take away my position. To give me time to plan for my next move. This was a last minute shock, after we have signed a contract, when the transfer window has been closed, and during a pandemic, when many will have no other option but to accept the fate that is before us. My blood pressure has been high ever since I heard this distressing news. Many ISS work harder than the Assistant Principals in their schools. The ISS is the one that teachers rely on for everything everyday, we are the MTSS & 504 Chairpersons, the PD planners/creators/facilitators, parent engagement leads, and Principal’s Assistants, I could go on and on. We are in the trenches. As a matter of fact I worked harder during this first round of virtual learning, than I did in the building, as I was daily and nightly attempting to connect with parents/students, provide mental health encouragement and instructional support to teachers, attending TEAM meetings nearly every day, all while completing my DCSD requirements/paperwork for MTSS, and monitoring all things in instructional—virtually, to name a few tasks. I am proof that whatever we needed to do, we got it done. I am so hurt that I feel that now I’ve had “feet placed on my neck with shoes on” and I am having trouble breathing this all in, to coin current, undesirable phrase.

    Now, we are discussing returning to buildings that must be sanitized daily, where Pre-K-5th grade students will be asked to social distance. Going back to buildings that before COVID had mold, poor ventilation, limited supplies, and not enough custodians to keep the older building in order. Not to mention, right now, the HVAC system does not work. Who will provide the extra support now needed in many buildings with enrollment over 1000? Who– many buildings do not have enough custodians to date. Many buildings do not have other coaches or support personnel. Why is DCSD not looking at some of the numerous top heavy, or needless positions in the central office, instead of always beating the hardest workers down again and again. I am hurt and disturbed; as I was blind -sided. I guess the final question is –who will decide who goes back in to the classroom, is it everyone? Is this at all schools?, what is the guidance for this stance?, and when will we know, so that we can make a decision for our career paths? Stan, I know you can give some insight. When will we know the true plan of action for ISS’s?

    P.S. I hope another board member has the guts to pick up this forum when you are gone, otherwise, many of us will not know what is happening in various areas of of the District. This is the one place where we can freely give our thoughts on information that we hear, and get as much help as possible. Thank you for this site, and I appreciate your always playing the devils’ advocate and asking the hard questions.

  27. Just curious

    This is off the topic and related to the budget so hopefully, it will bring about some good conversation. Have they looked at cutting some of the jobs at the central office and placing them back in the schools? We are top heavy. People at the district office are making hefty salaries but we never see them in the buildings where we need the help. We have coordinators for coordinators all with hefty salaries. Many are nonessential positions. What about the Student Support Specialist positions? I didn’t see them listed. Most importantly, I hope they reconsider keeping the ISS positions because they are essential. They coordinate MTSS, coach teachers, provide professional learning opportunities for teachers, assist with discipline, basically they help teachers help kids. I certainly hope the ISS position is not cut.

  28. Elizabeth P

    Could you please tell me how many Dekalb County School employee’s are involved in the payout of this lawsuit?

    Thank you for keeping us all informed, and thank you for your support!

  29. Thank you Amy and Elaine for speaking and bringing this to fruition. Amy, I remember when you were talking about this back at EDC in 2003. Thank

  30. Joseph C Wilson

    I retired and moved out of state when this happened. Who will I need to contact to be part of the settlement?

  31. Stan Jester

    Nobody knows who all will be in the class. The list of prospective class members must be put together. As this moves forward, most of this rests in the hands of the Gold team. Let’s wait until the list of prospective class members get contacted. By then, there should be more answers available.

  32. This and That

    People who have questions should check out Roy Barnes website TSA. It has a FAQ section.

  33. I am glad to see the ISS position gone. Most (not all) were positions where principals picked their friends. While some may have done a lot, most did nothing. The ones who did a lot will probably get a job at their school using Title 1 money and that means less for the students. Make the assistant principals do some real work.

  34. Sorry people for the off topic interjection during such wonderful news. The budget plan is so disheartening. As someone wrote our county has coordinators for the coordinators, most of whom we never see. Is this ok?

    By the way RegularEd I did not know the Principal or anyone at the school that I have been the ISS for four years at It is unfortunate that a few bad apples make us all look bad. I work extremely hard for the teachers and students in my building under challenging situations. I love doing what I do. Not everyone is as you see them. So the top heavy personnel are ok with you? I just want to know the details for the potential budget. We saved money with us learning virtually, It is hard to believe that the district can’t find a way to keep those in the trenches.

  35. Thank you to all who worked so hard to make this settlement happen. I waa working in the DCSS when the SS contributions to the TSAs were initially suspended. I remember sitting in the bleachers of a very hot DHS gym (air was broken at the time) when then Superintendent Crawford Lewis delivered the news the school system “needed” our money for “just a year.” I left two years later and went to another school system closet to home. Who do I need to contact to ensure my name is on the list?

  36. @Kimi- If we look at the structure of the school system, we could cut a lot of jobs from the budget. If you do all the work you say, your principal will find a way to keep you. Perhaps call him/her. Most schools will keep their ISS with Title 1 money. If your principal wants you gone, then that is another story.

  37. Hi RegularEd. That is part of the problem. Title I funds were just spent on 2 new Academic Coaches. We just learned of this ousting of ISS’s on the 9th. It is the last minute knowledge of all of this that is disheartening. It did not allow for a timeframe for alternative decision making. And yes, I do perform all of these duties somehow. I am amazed myself as other ISS’s are. When you are the only extra support person in a building with over 1000 students, it is possible. But thanks for your comments. It will work out for the better, it is just a last minute shock that I wasn’t prepared for. Also, with little guidance as to the process, it’s hard to know what direction to take. The crazy thing is—like everything else, communication in this district is weak. I know a Principal who just hired an ISS. Imagine how that person feels. What that says to me is that administrators and HR were not yet aware of this new budget decision. Stay safe, and wear your mask.

  38. Thank you!

  39. I am hoping to retire at the end of 2021. How will the pay outs be handled for those retiring before the 3 -5 year time line?

  40. This is the link for the Barnes Law Group. They have posted a statement about the TSA suit. I just copied the last paragraph. I think that we will have to wait to get more information.

    “The settlement is subject to approval by the Court, and the parties are preparing papers to submit to the Court for preliminary approval. If approved, more information will be provided for those who may qualify as members of the class.

  41. Dianne Black

    Thanks for your perservance in pursuing this matter!

  42. @Kimi- I talked to numerous teachers and each school is keeping their ISS. They are using Title 1 funds, so reach out to your principal. No new ISS’s will be hired. I am sure you will land on your feet. Good luck this year.

  43. Sandra Langford

    I submitted my information to the Barnes Group years ago. Many thanks to the teachers who never gave up on this valuable fight for us. I am nearing retirement and this would be a great asset at this time. Kudos to all involved for a successful accomplishment. Well deserved!

  44. Vivian Johnson 1996 to 2018

  45. Thank you all for your hard work for us, we really appreciate you.
    Again thanks

  46. I’m a retiree also. I was employed 1999 to 2012. Who do I contact to make sure I receive any back funds owed to me?

  47. I’m a retiree also. I was employed 1999 to 2012. Who do I contact to make sure I receive any back funds owed to me?

  48. RegularEd. Thank you so much for this information. I hope that our new Principal will see it that way, as she just was okayed to hire Academic Coaches with Her Title 1 funds just before this news. I will remain optimistic. I’ll let you know if anything new info comes in case there are other ISS’ s out there. It might be a sign that it is time for me to make a change. Thanks for the encouragement.

    Again thanks to the ladies who persevered on our behalf.

    Stay safe all, and wear your masks..

  49. ForeverTeacher

    @Kimi, I have read your posts and my heart aches for you and other ISS’s who have been put in this position. The fact that this decision is happening NOW and not earlier is extremely disappointing. This really leaves those individuals with little options or control of where they end up working and in which capacity. I understand that no one’s contract is ever tied to a particular school, but the possibility of being moved to a new school (during a pandemic/crisis) without any input or consideration of what location works best for you or your family is sad and unfortunate. I do hope that the board considers not just the monetary aspect of this decision, but also the human component. We are all trying to navigate through this pandemic and the new normal which has brought about a level of stress that can’t even be described. And then to compact that with a decision that seems to have come out of the blue is just unthinkable. Has anyone considered the possible impact this decision can have on the very people that ISS’s have been called to serve, especially during this time of uncertainty. It amazes me how in times of crisis education is always the first to get defunded. And we wonder why we end up having to throw additional dollars into the criminal justice system. You can always tell what people and systems value by where they choose to invest their money. And this is shameful and disheartening. Just know that you actually have until the end of June to find employment with a system that will value you as an educator. But hopefully, someone will speak up and speak out and do what’s in the best interest of children. Building-level positions should never be compromised. There are more than enough non-essential people outside of the schoolhouse with teaching certificates who can fill these unfilled positions if the goal was really to save money and to not impact the unemployment levels.

  50. Dr. Joanne H. Lottie

    Thanks for the information.

  51. According to the GaDOE website, DeKalb has more than enough money in the bank to pay for this. The problem is nobody can find the money. Maybe the money isn’t in the bank?

  52. Odessa Hancock

    I just saw this post. I also retired in 2010. Who do I contact about this settlement? Thank you ladies for a job well done.

  53. Stan Jester

    From Barnes Lawgroup

    “The settlement is subject to approval by the Court, and the parties are preparing papers to submit to the Court for preliminary approval. If approved, more information will be provided for those who may qualify as members of the class.

  54. Pamela Williams

    So appreciative! It has been a long time coming. Thanks to the two brave women for pursuing this matter.

  55. Thank you for your kind and truthful words ForeverTeacher. I am diligently seeking answers. I am hopeful that things will work out not just for me, but for everyone. Wow Kirk Lunde, Isn’t it amazing that this is a norm.
    Hopefully all of the ISS will come together and say something on this issue.
    I’ll keep you posted.

  56. John Johnson

    The amount for proper compensation should have been around 250 million since TSA contributions stopped in 2009. Why SETTLE for 117 million when the Courts agreed that DeKalb was wrong. If we get 3 years of money, we still lost 7 years. Why was a SETTLE deal done?

  57. Jacquelyn west


  58. Want to know

    I’m confused. They county owes us for 9 years but they are only paying for 3 years. Did I read that correctly?

  59. Stan Jester

    @WantToKnow, $117.5 million is the number the two sides agreed on. Most of the courts sided with the plaintiffs, but the courts didn’t say how many years.

  60. WOW – and it only took TEN YEARS!!! I pray these teachers are made whole. This is the most under-handed action the board has ever taken. We wrote a post at DSW2 updating people on the situation in 2013 – thinking then that too much time had elapsed … never did we dream it would take a full decade to do the right thing.

  61. ps – the legal issue here has always been that the Board abruptly stopped making contributions to TSA accounts – fully and blatantly ignoring the contract that clearly stated they must give employees a TWO YEAR notice of plans to stop contributions. I’m thinking this is all they are required to reimburse – the 2+ years they didn’t give notification. Just guessing though really …

  62. Alfred Youbg

    Started system 1992
    Retire date 2023

  63. Alfred Youbg

    This is sad we shouldn’t have to worry about something like this at our stage of our career. I’m concerned we might get short changed

  64. @alfred Youbg. Millions of Americans are losing their jobs. The administration’s number one goal is not to let people go. This is really tough. All things considered… please tell me what is on your mind … what is it you are worrying about. —Stan

  65. Linda Cherry

    I would like to know what I need to do to be added to the list!!! I worked for the School System from 1989 to 2012!!!

  66. Stan Jester

    Good morning @Linda Cherry. The settlement is subject to approval by the Court, and the parties are preparing papers to submit to the Court for preliminary approval. If approved, more information will be provided for those who may qualify as members of the class.

  67. Jesus was a carpenter

    TSA contributions never stopped for employees that were not in TRS,just keep that in mind when determining how many employees were affected.

  68. This and That

    Thank you Jesus was a Carpenter! Exactly! In other words, administrators (central office) kept getting the TSA contributions! It goes beyond just not getting TSA. We also were not returned to Social Security! From the Social Security website: “If you paid Social Security taxes on 30 years of substantial earnings, WEP does not apply to you.”


    @This and That Central office, nor administrators continued to receive TSA contributions only Custodians, Food Service workers except managers, and Bus Drivers. Any Employee in the PSERS plan continued to recieve TSA contribution

  70. I’d like to know what happens beyond the settlement. Will Dekalb County now return to paying Social Security or reinstate TSA contributions once again? Aren’t they lawfully required to do one or the other? Or do we just continue to work without this contribution to our retirement? How does that work? Aren’t other school systems contributing additional funds to there employees retirement through Social Security? Isn’t this considered a benefit that would go along way to keeping teachers and others staff in the county?

  71. Stan Jester

    Social Security – Being a part of TRS (the state Teacher Retirement System) allowed DeKalb Schools to opt out of Social Security in 1978. They can never go back to Social Security and must always pay into TRS.

    Many school districts have additional retirement packages. DeKalb Schools has a 403(b) 2% Employee Contribution Match. Many school districts have a 7% matching FICA … otherwise known as Social Security. The 403b is like a 401K for the governement. While a 403b or 401K is a much more efficient retirement funding mechanism, 2% is weak and I’ve tried for the last 5 years to get that bumped up.

  72. @StanJester Thank you for responding. So to make sure I understand correctly. While working in DCSD we are potentially missing out on up to an additional 5% matched contribution to a retirement plan, despite a 403b potentially earning us more money upon retirement over SSI in the long term? We are essentially still being short changed by the county? Not to mention the 2% contribution on our part is optional, compared to other employees who are required to contribute 6.2% with a mandatory 6.2% match by the employer? If other employers are required to contribute a mandatory 6.2% shouldn’t Dekalb even if it doesn’t go towards SS?

    I think I understand this correctly. Unfortunately, these issues are just becoming more important to me to understand as I begin the second half of my career and begin to plan and look forward to retirement. With this in consideration I’m trying to make sure that having stayed in Dekalb county will make the most sense when my retirement time comes. I already feel like I have missed out on a considerable amount of money for my retirement while working in the county over the last 15 years? Again just trying to make sure I’m understanding things correctly as I try to financially plan for my future. Thank you for your answers!

    P.s. Can you provide a site that will help me better understand the TRS plan as it compares to a school district retirement plan?


    @Stan Jester Yes there is an optional 2% 403(b) board match but the board does not start matching until you have been on the job for at least 5 years which is entirely too long it should be at hire date.

  74. @DeborahBurns: It would be helpful if you use a period at end of sentences. That, along with other punctuation marks, will enhance the clarity of your posts. Thank you.

  75. Deborah Burns

    @john A I didn’t know I was writing a school paper for a grade


    @JohnA: If you must have it here’s your period (.) and here’s your (,) Now miss me with this elementary drama……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  77. @Deborah Burns I’m glad you brought up the 5 year waiting period as this is something that has concerned me as well. At the time the county suspended the TSA contributions I had only been in the county for 4 years but have since remained in the county for now 15 years. I’m anxiously waiting to find out if I will even be apart of the lawsuit settlement. Seems unlikely, but I am hopeful. I feel like I should be. All of this feels so wrong and unfair either way.

  78. Deborah Burns

    @Warrior 1 when you started there was a 3 year wait. If. You received any contributions from the board TSA plan seems like you should be entitled,

  79. This and That

    I was just looking at the Roy Barnes website about the DeKalb TSA. It states that there will soon be an official settlement website informing potential class members of their legal rights and other information. I am going to keep checking his website for updated info.


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