San Francisco parents are speaking out after discovering that a teacher diagnosed with cancer will have to pay for her substitutes wages for the remainder of the school year while she’s out on sick leave, the SFGate reports.
The second-grade teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous, is required by California state law to cover her sub’s wages while she out.
Speaking to SFGate, parent Amanda Fried said that she and other parents are “outraged and incredulous” after learning the teacher’s predicament.
“There must be some mistake,” she said.
According to a spokesperson for the San Francisco School District, the rule is not exclusive to the city.
“This is not unique to San Francisco,” Laura Dudnick said. “This is not a district-only rule.”
Teachers in California don’t pay into the state disability insurance program, so they can’t draw its benefits. The governor and state Legislature in 1976 inserted into the education code that public school teachers can go on leave for an illness or an injury for five months and that their paychecks will be whole, minus the cost of a substitute teacher.
Incredibly, the law allows districts to deduct the pay of a substitute even if no substitute was hired.
The head of San Francisco’s teacher union said teachers can dip into the union’s “catastrophic sick leave bank” which currently holds 511 days. A teacher can draw up to 85 sick days from the bank, but that pay doesn’t offset the cost of a substitute teacher.
“Officially, we have nothing in the contract beyond that,” Susan Solomon said. “I think we could always do better. In a broader sense, I think single-payer health care is the answer.”
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