News Story

Disgruntled? Double-Dipping Part-Time School Teacher Was Doing Pretty Well

State law allowed her to return to the classroom while collecting a teacher’s pension

The Manchester Mirror newspaper in Washtenaw County published a story in January highlighting the resignation of Manchester Community Schools teacher Debra Groth. The district said that Groth had been a long-term substitute, and was teaching art in a position that was 0.8 full-time equivalency.

The article cited union officials, who said Groth’s departure illustrated the fact that teachers in the district were feeling disgruntled over low pay and the administration’s lack of support. Groth submitted a letter Dec. 10 to the district spelling out the reasons for her resignation. Groth cited non-compliance with COVID-19 mask mandates, complaining parents and disrespectful students as the reason for her resignation.

But Groth was not a typical substitute teacher. She had been a full-time teacher at the Chippewa Valley school district in Macomb County, collecting gross pay of $94,378 a year before retiring in 2016-17. Manchester schools pay long-term substitute teachers $105 a day. The district said due to her benefits, Groth was limited to what she could earn and she came up with the plan to work for $105 a day. The district also paid Groth an additional $30 an hour when she would substitute for another teacher.

When Groth retired, she began collecting a Michigan school pension of $42,264 a year and benefiting from some special carveouts enacted by the Legislature over the years. When she took the Manchester job, she was allowed to collect both the full amount of her pension and her part-time salary, a practice known as double-dipping. She also had the option of keeping her public school health insurance into retirement.

According to her LinkedIn account, Groth works as a private artist with studios in Sterling Heights and Chelsea.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.