If Sick Leave Runs Out, California Teachers Must Pay for Substitutes Themselves

The policy, added to the code in 1976, was recently scrutinized when a teacher at a San Francisco school had to cover the fees for the person subbing for her while she undergoes breast cancer treatment.
by | May 10, 2019 AT 7:50 AM

By Colleen Shalby

Under California's education code, teachers who exhaust their sick leave and remain out due to illness or accident would see their salary docked to cover payment for the substitute teacher.

The policy, added to the code in 1976, was recently scrutinized when a teacher at a San Francisco school had to cover the fees for the person subbing for her while she undergoes breast cancer treatment. The woman's situation came to light when a GoFundMe page launched for the teacher last month and was reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

"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 page read. The teacher has taught at Glen Park School for 17 years.

In the San Francisco School District, a teacher is allotted 10 sick days at the beginning of the school year, and 100 days of extended sick leave if they need more time. The teacher's salary for those extra days is reduced by the cost of a substitute teacher, which is generally between $167.94 and $203.16 per day in that district.

State Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino), chair of the California Senate Education Committee, wants 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 teacher, who has asked that her name be withheld for privacy reasons, was described in the fundraiser as an impeccable educator who wrote each of her 22 students a personalized note to thank them for their support after her first surgery.

The fundraiser closed after receiving more than $13,000, exceeding the goal of $10,000.

(c)2019 the Los Angeles Times