Some Maywood teachers have been paid more than contract for up to four years, and are now being asked for up to $20,000 each back.
"some teachers had previously brought the overpayments to the attention of the administration but had been brushed off.", says the Sun-Times http://www.suntimes.com/news/education/2046511,CST-NWS-maywood14.article#
These seem to be mostly entry level teachers who were paid at a higher pay grade. So, we can assume that for many of these teachers this is their first job after college and they've got student loans to pay off.
It's not that they don't need to pay back the money (if they'd discovered underpayment, they certainly would expect to get that back), it's that since this is the district's fault the teachers should be given a reasonable length of time to pay it back. I'm thinking $1,000 a year for as long as it takes. Yes, for $20,000 that's 20 years. And during that time, the district should pay for their taxes to be done, since it's not just a matter of coming up with $20,000 for four years of overpayment, it's a matter of redoing your taxes for those four years and possibly realizing you would have qualified for food stamps with that level of income (but you can't go back now).
If there are teachers who bought a $200,000 house during that time that's now only worth $150,000, the district should accept 10% of the house if the teacher wishes -- because with a lower income, the house might not have been bought (or the teacher might not have qualified for such a large mortgage). Of course, if this case the district might, in the long run, come out well if the housing market recovers.