A recent letter to the Chareidi blog, Yeshiva World, puts this issue in stark relief. A father of two women, both teachers in Chareidi schools, bemoans their experiences in those institutions. One daughter was promised to be paid on a "per week basis" only to be told that there are only 4 weeks in every month. Essentially, she was shortchanged by a stingy Chareidi principal who believes that there are 48 weeks in the calendar year.The discussion at Yeshiva World is here, and many of the commenters are adding their own stories, although there are a handful who are decrying this public criticism of the schools. I do think there is a marked difference between these cases, which are essentially evil, and schools and yeshivos which simply cannot pay. I know of places where they try their hardest to pay on time, but for whatever reason at some time are not able to do so. [Note: I am not saying this is acceptable, merely noting it is on a different level.]
The other daughter was told that she would be paid for substitute teaching. When she approached the principal for payment, she was told that the private tutoring that she was conducting in the school (at the school's request, no less) used the school's utilities (electricity for the lights, apparently) and thereby offset the salary that she had been promised.
But what is most troubling in most of these cases is the lack of a written contract. I cannot understand why anyone would work without a contract, nor how any truly trustworthy institution would explain why they do not give out such contracts. The only reasons I can think of that a school would not have a contract for a teacher are because they are trying to avoid taxes or because they are not going to honor the contract (whether for legitimate reasons or not).
If you are going to be a teacher of any sort, make sure to have a written, signed contract on formal school stationary. Also, if you aren't asked to fill out either a W-2 [hopefully] or 1099 [hopefully not] form, find out why. Not paying taxes is stealing, no matter what Rav or Rebbetzin is helping to run the school. Asking for documentation is not showing a lack of trust but a sense of responsibility. I am also incredibly appalled at the games some places play to get increased government funding, moving kids into classes they are not a part of (particularly in relation to Special Education classrooms) to make it appear that they have more kids in certain classes, etc. I don't understand how the principals who are responsible for this can live with themselves knowing that they are lying, deceiving, and stealing. It's simply appalling.