40 Custodians At Mansfield Schools Out Of Jobs Over Social Secutity Irregularities

40 custodians at Mansfield schools out of jobs over Social Security irregularities

By Traci Shurley
The Star Telegram (Fort Worth, TX), February 11, 2009

Forty custodians at Mansfield schools have lost their jobs or resigned since August after an internal audit found that the Social Security numbers they had given the district were incorrect or invalid, school officials said Tuesday.

The district began verifying the Social Security numbers of the 269 employees in the custodial department after receiving an employee tip that some might be false, according to district spokesman Terry Morawski.

One hundred twenty employees numbers have been checked so far. Social Security numbers are issued by the federal government to U.S. citizens, permanent residents and immigrants. In the case of permanent residents and immigrants, they are proof that the person has valid immigration status.

Jeff Brogden, director of facilities and operations for the district, said the situation was shocking and 'heartbreaking' because some of the employees involved had been with the district as long as 10 years.

'Theyre like family. Its a very difficult situation,' he said.

Mansfield has about 30,000 students and more than 3,500 employees.

The district is not required by law to verify Social Security numbers that it submits to the Internal Revenue Service. However, employers can face civil penalties if they do not take action when the IRS notifies them that a Social Security number does not match the name submitted or appears invalid.

Mansfield school officials couldnt determine Tuesday whether the district had received any notifications regarding the 40 employees.

Each of the custodial employees had undergone criminal background checks based on fingerprints, but the checks did not reveal the invalid numbers, Morawski said.

Brogden said that employees with invalid numbers were given 90 days to resolve the issue and that many worked until the last day possible.

Morawski said the district is reviewing its policy for verifying Social Security numbers. District officials have not contacted law enforcement about the invalid numbers, he said.

'At this point, its all been internal,' he said.

No federal law requires employers to notify law enforcement of invalid Social Security numbers, according to Carl Rusnok, a spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The agency is always interested, though, in information that may lead to identifying people using fraudulent identification, Rusnok said.