The Davis School District's sick leave policy has raised the ire of one school board member who believes the policy is too broad.
Board member Robert Thurgood raised his objections to the policy during a recent discussion of proposed revisions aimed at bringing the policy in line with federal guidelines.But it wasn't the revisions that Thurgood opposed. He said he objects to an existing section that allows teachers to use sick leave to assist other family members during periods of serious illness.
Thurgood said he finds it unacceptable to allow teachers to take sick leave when they are not ill. He said such a practice in private business would be totally unacceptable, and he believes it is inappropriate for school districts as well.
The section allows teachers to request sick leave to assist children, spouses, parents and grandparents. The policy carries a strong caution requiring that the situation be "serious" and allows the district to seek verification of the illness either through the affected person's personal physician or a physician of the district's choice.
Superintendent Richard Kendell said the long-standing section is common among Utah school districts. Kendell said such sick leave is used infrequently, about four to five times a year. He said most instances involve the teacher's child. Because of the trend toward two-career families, often there is no one at home to attend the child and one parent must take leave. He said the policy also benefits single parents.
Other board members expressed support for the concept. Most said they feel comfortable with the controls included in the policy and recognize that it has not been abused in the past.
Teachers accrue seven days of sick leave each year. Unused days can be carried over to the future contract years. Kendell said there is no limit to the number of sick leave days a teacher can use to care for a relative, as long as the number does not exceed the available days.
The policy revisions, which Thurgood said he supports, were designed to clarify sick leave usage, especially in the event of long-term disability. The changes limit the number of total days a teacher can take long-term disability.
Thurgood voted against the revisions, which were approved on a 4-1 vote.