California Teacher Forced to Pay for Substitute While Battling Cancer

A second grade teacher in San Francisco is struggling with breast cancer, which has required her to take a leave of absence from her classroom to undergo and recover from treatment. But she has had to resort to paying for her own substitute during her time off.

The teacher’s name has been withheld out of respect for her and her family’s privacy. Her peers and her students’ parents are understandably saddened and outraged at what they see as a grave injustice.

Parent Narciso Flores-Diaz told NBC Bay Area that she felt “sad that from what I hear she is a very good teacher and I just feel sad what’s going on to her.” Amanda Fried said she and other parents were “outraged and incredulous – like, this can’t be, there must be some mistake.”

Speaking to the media, fellow teachers at Glen Park Elementary say this predicament is hardly surprising, explaining that they are accustomed to poor treatment.

In California, a 1976 law dictates that public school teachers are not only exempt from the state’s disability program, but they’re also entitled to only 10 days of paid medical absence. Beyond that, an ill teacher may take 100 days off — but only if they foot the bill for their substitute during those days. In this case, that comes to roughly $200 per day in San Francisco.

In a heartening turn of events, once word got out, parents outraged by the teacher’s predicament launched a GoFundMe campaign, which raised $13,000 to cover substitute costs and other expenses related to medical treatment.

Earlier this year, I reported for Care2 on GoFundMe’s finding that a third of fundraising campaigns on the website were created to support Americans struggling to pay their medical expenses.

On average, public teachers make $82,000 yearly in San Francisco, where the cost of living is notoriously high.

United Educators of San Francisco, the local public teachers’ union, says that addressing this controversial sick leave mandate will be a major priority when contract negotiations take place next year. After California State Senator Connie Levya heard about the elementary school teacher’s situation, she explained that “times have changed and it’s our job to change with the times.” Levya will be looking to push her fellow lawmakers to amend the law,

Take Action!

It’s a sad state of affairs when an individual with one of the most important professions in the country — educating the next generation of Americans — can fall ill with a horrible disease like breast cancer and be penalized for taking the necessary time to treat it. It’s simply stunning that this has been the law for over 40 years, and that, until now, no one has batted an eye.

Add your name to this Care2 petition to call on state legislators in California to review and revise this cruel and archaic law. Future public educators with health struggles shouldn’t have to face unwarranted hardships during their most difficult times!

Concerned about an issue? Want to raise awareness about an injustice? Join your fellow Care2 users by learning how to make your own petition and make your voice heard today!

 

Photo Credit: Nicole Honeywill/Unsplash

19 comments

Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson15 days ago

Outraged. Petition signed.

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Ganaisha Calvin
Ganaisha Calvin16 days ago

Just when we thought teachers were disrespected enough in this society

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Daniel N
John N17 days ago

Signed. Thank you.

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson18 days ago

Thank you.

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson18 days ago

Thank you.

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Ingrid A
Isabel A23 days ago

signed

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Winn A
Winn A24 days ago

Come on CA you can do better!

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Winn A
Winn A24 days ago

Disgusting and Despicable

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Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan Hill26 days ago

Shame on California

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silja s
silja salonen28 days ago

WHAT THE F**K ... does no one care about the school system. is there no backup plans for unseen illnesses

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