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Teacher Sick Days Become the Subject of a New Mexico Lawsuit

For weeks, we have been discussing the idea of teacher evaluations and how educators are penalized for missing days on those very evaluations. One teacher from Eastern New Mexico's Logan Municipal Schools is aiming to ensure that her teacher evaluations are being handled in a fair manner. 

Angela Medrow is fearful that her evaluation score will be hampered by the amount of days she missed from school. So, she has filed a lawsuit which accuses the Public Education Department of New Mexico of "stripping teachers' private property by preventing them from using earned sick days," according to the Santa Fe New Mexican. Furthermore, her lawsuit claims that the evaluation policy is a violation of the New Mexico Constitution. 

Warren Frost, the attorney representing Medrow, says that this is about more than one educator. He believes that they will be representing teachers all over the state. Ironically, the suit was filed just days before Gov. Susana Martinez pushed for a policy that would extend the number of sick days educators could take, before it reflected poorly on their evaluation. 

"An effort to amend the teacher sick leave policy gained wide bipartisan support in both chambers of the Legislature during the recent 60-day legislative session. The legislation would have allowed teachers to take up to 10 days of sick leave without seeing any effect on their evaluation," according to the report. "Martinez vetoed the measure. The governor said she was concerned such a change would lead to more teacher absences, adding to the cost of using substitute teachers."

Medrow's battle with the Public Education Department of New Mexico is certainly not the only instance where teach sick leave is being challenged.

Back in late January of 2017, the Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee narrowly passed a measure that would eliminate the requirement for teachers to receive paid sick leave and remove what the state calls the Public School Code, which states "teachers and administrators are entitled to sabbatical leaves after 10 years' employment and every seven years thereafter," according to Penn Live.

For cost-conscious states, curtailing or eliminating the number of paid sick days translates to less spending on employee benefits and substitute teachers. On the other side, teacher and teacher advocacy groups in these states find themselves fighting to preserve a basic contractual benefit.

Article by Navindra Persaud, Education World Contributor.

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