Bank error causes some Florida teachers’ $1K bonus checks to bounce

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Some Florida teachers attempting to cash their state-issued $1,000 bonus checks this week were startled to learn that there were insufficient funds.

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The state has not gone bankrupt. However, a “banking error” by JPMorgan Chase left the state redfaced and at least 50 teachers miffed, the Miami Herald reported.

The checks, issued to at least 50 teachers in 22 different Florida counties, bounced because of the error, Florida Department of Education spokesperson Jared Ochs said.

The bonuses were a major part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ legislative agenda and received bipartisan support in the Florida Legislature, according to the Herald.

The bounced checks were discovered after state Sen. Jason Pizzo, D-Miami, posted a photo on Twitter of one teacher’s “returned item notice” from the Jackson County Teachers Credit Union showing the check bounced for “not sufficient funds.” The teacher received the notice Tuesday.

“Any Florida teachers out there whose bonus checks bounced?” Pizzo asked.

“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, JPMorgan Chase’s vice president of communications, said in a statement to the Herald.

Reed said the mistake impacted “a small number of people out of 176,000 payments made.” However, it was not immediately clear how soon impacted educators will have access to their $1,000 bonuses.

The state is working to correct the mistake, Brett Tubbs, another FDOE spokesperson, told The News Service of Florida in an email.

Educators who received the worthless checks have been identified and the bank “has indicated they will be reimbursing all penalties and fees” associated with the error, Tubbs said, according to WTVT.

The state paid a private contractor $3.6 million to print and send the checks, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Pizzo followed up his original tweet with a criticism of the method used to distribute the checks.

“Teaching moment: The individual political benefit in spending $3.6 million to print and send thousands of checks with your name on it, is outweighed by the more efficient and fiscally responsible option of direct deposit,” Pizzo tweeted.