Have breast cancer? If you’re a California teacher, it’ll cost you. While the Golden State might be known for its liberal leanings, a San Francisco school is being downright medieval in its treatment of a teacher who’s out on leave with breast cancer.
The teacher battling the cancer is out on sick leave, of which she only gets 10 days paid days of medical leave under California state law. While she’s eligible for another 100 days, the cost of the substitute teacher the district hires to fill in will be deducted from the sick teacher’s annual salary.
The cost of a substitute averages between $167.94 and $203.16 per day at Glen Park Elementary School in the San Francisco district. An average teacher’s salary in the area, excluding benefits, is $82,024.37. Needless to say, those charges add up to a big salary cut — fast.
There is a program in place, called a Sick Leave Bank, in which teachers donate their unused sick days to help their colleagues. Those teachers in need can draw up to 85 days without deduction from their paychecks. But this policy means the burden is still on the teachers themselves.
This little-known policy isn’t new. It’s been on the state law books since 1976, a result of California teachers opting not to pay into the state’s disability insurance program. It’s certainly being scrutinized now. The situation has come to the attention of State Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino), chair of the California Senate Education Committee. She would like to change the law.
“Candidly, I think that times have changed and it’s our job to change with the times,” Leyva told NBC Bay Area.
The Glen Park teacher, who remains anonymous for privacy reasons, came into the public eye through a GoFundMe page that read: “By the time she has her second surgery, she will have exhausted all of her accumulated sick leave days and will be using extended sick leave, which is the regular salary minus the cost of the substitute teacher. Her colleagues will be donating sick days, but they will not be available until the next school year.”
The teacher has been recognized as a devoted and extraordinary educator, and parents at the school are feeling strongly about her situation.
“No teacher should have to go through what our second grade teacher is going through,” said a concerned father at Glen Park Elementary School.
The GoFundMe page closed after topping out at $13,000, exceeding its $10,000 goal.