Jesse McDaniel is with the Alabama Education Association and the office phone has been ringing off the hook. McDaniel has spent two days returning phone calls, talking to teachers and staff about letters they got seemingly reprimanding them for their absences.
What’s maddening is teachers say many of the absences were sick days they’d earned and professional development days which are mandated by the school system.
“It shows a blatant lack of concern by the administration, for the morale of the employees,” says McDaniel.
According to state law, teachers are allowed nine sick days. However, teachers who took fewer days than that still got these letters that sound pretty ominous.
“You could be called to Human Resources for a very intimidating meeting, they could be suspended eventually or even terminated,” says McDaniel.
McDaniel is getting numerous messages on Facebook and his personal phone from outraged staff.
We asked Mobile County Superintendent of Schools Martha Peek about the letters.
“The intent of the letter wasn’t to be menacing or negative. It was simply, the HR department wanted to say we have an issue with attendance, we want everyone to be aware of that. If you’re using those days in the way that they’re intended to be used, then there’s nothing to be worried about,” says Peek.
She adds despite what some letters say, this will not be added to anyone’s personnel file. She also says the computer was not programmed to factor in the earned sick or vacation days. Although, they are looking to decrease the number absences because of the impact on students and financially. The school system spends over $6 million a year on substitute teachers.
“From our point, in the central office, we need to be cognizant of the number of professional development days,” says Peek.
Peek’s office will be sending out letters to clarify, meanwhile, McDaniel says this should have been caught before the other letters were sent out and they do plan to bring this to their attention at the next school board meeting on November 16th.