“The district received the decision of the Georgia Court of Appeals in the Gold case on Friday,” district officials said via email Wednesday. “The district is reviewing the decision carefully and considering its next steps.”
The annuity plan, established in 1979, was an additional benefit to educators and a Social Security alternative. The fund is separate from the state retirement fund and is paid into individual employee accounts, not taxed until withdrawn.
Former DeKalb County Board of Education Chairman Tom Bowen said after the lawsuit was filed that the board did not act improperly, adding that the board had the ability to amend its policies. The suit argues, though, the board voted to waive the two-year notice a year after contributions were suspended.
In 2015, DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Gregory Adams ruled the district did not breach a contract, saying there was no provision calling for a two-year notice before reducing the contributions. But the appeals court decision cites a “governmental promise” saying no changes would take place without two years’ notice.
THE STORY SO FAR
A teacher and a counselor filed a lawsuit against the DeKalb County School District in 2011 claiming the district improperly suspended contributions to a retirement fund in 2009. A judge later sided with the district, saying two years’ notice was not needed to reduce or eliminate the plan.
The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that a “governmental promise” meant district officials could not reduce the plan without giving notice to participating employees.
Unless the school district files an appeal that is heard by the Georgia Supreme Court, the case goes back to the DeKalb County Superior Court. It will be decided there whether eligible employees can join the lawsuit as a class-action, and what, if anything, they are owed by the school district.