12 On Your Side: Money miscommunication over teen program

By: Elizabeth Owens Email
By: Elizabeth Owens Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, June 27, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Damian White is spending his summer trying to earn some extra cash for clothes and college savings. The rising senior not only started working at a library but also joined a summer program to earn a stipend.

"I asked, how much the stipend was going to be? She said minimum wage. Minimum wage is $7.25," said Lorie Rook.

Rook thought the Richmond County High School Learning Program through the Augusta Partnership for Children was the perfect opportunity for her son to learn life skills and make some money.

The month-long program offers life classes to high school students, along with an apprenticeship.

It wasn't until close to the end of program that Rook and her son learned he would not be paid a stipend equal to minimum wage.

"Three weeks later, you tell them $5.50. I don't think that's fair to the students," Rooks said.

Chavone Hollimon says she didn't exactly say minimum wage.

"Being that last year they got minimum wage, I told them in the range of minimum wage, but said I would get back with them," the communication director said.

She admits she didn't get back to the students with the exact amount of $5.50 an hour until about week ago.

"It's only about a $1.75/$1.25 difference," she said.

Rook says the difference in money added up to nearly a couple hundred dollars.

"I feel that was unfair," she said.

The director of the program tells News 12 the reason for the smaller stipend is because the state asked them to add 10 more students to the program this year. The program is partly funded through grant money.

Hollimon says they were not given any extra money to finance the 10 extra students. In the past, only 20 students were accepted into the program.

Damian's mother says it's not about the money but about the principle.

"What's right is right and what's wrong is wrong," Rook said.

Hollimon says they plan to communicate better next year to avoid any misunderstandings involving stipend amounts.

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