California Law Forces Teacher Battling Cancer to Pay For Her Own Substitute

A California teacher on medical leave to receive treatment for her breast cancer was forced to pay for her substitute’s salary, CNN reports.

A San Francisco teacher, whose name was withheld from news reports as she receives cancer treatment, will have to pay for a substitute teacher at Glen Park Elementary School because of a decades-old state law.

All teachers in the San Francisco Unified School District receive 10 paid days of medical leave annually but teachers who need more time, up to 100 days, must have the cost of the substitute teacher deducted from their salary. Other teachers can also donate their unused sick days to help colleagues.

The average daily pay for a substitute teacher in San Francisco is $203. The average teacher salary at the school district is $82,000.

"This reflects California Education Code language related to extended sick leave that applies to all other school districts in California," district spokeswoman Laura Dudnick said in a statement. "This is not unique to San Francisco. This is not a district-only rule."

Parents say the rule is unfair:

The teacher has chosen to remain anonymous but parents are speaking out.

"She's an incredible teacher and that's not fair," school parent Elia Hernandez told KGO. "That's crazy!"

Another parent agreed that she was “one of the best teachers” and described the situation as “terrible.”

Susan Solomon, the head of the United Educators of San Francisco, said the union hopes to negotiate for a better medical leave policy next year.

"The issues involving teachers' use of extended sick leave and the catastrophic sick leave bank, as well as the school district's use of a daily substitute dock rate, are governed by law and the collective bargaining agreement," Solomon said in a statement. "UESF is consulting with our members on their priorities for contract negotiations next year. As always, we look forward to making improvements in this and other parts of the contract."

A GoFundMe campaign for the teacher stopped accepting donations after hitting $13,000.


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