teacher sick leave

Bill giving teachers 1-for-1 sick day donation heads to House

Jarek RutzGovernment, Headlines

teacher sick leave

A bill that would stop penalizing teachers for donating a sick day to their colleagues is headed to the House. Photo by Furkan İnce/Pexels

A buy-one-get-two deal is a bargain at a grocery store, but not so ideal for teachers looking to exchange days off. 

A new law could even the scales.

Senate Bill 20, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Bryan Townsend, D-Newark, removes the requirement that a public school district employee who donates leave to another employee must donate two days of leave for the other employee to receive one day of leave.

After a brief discussion on the Senate floor Tuesday, the bill passed unanimously.

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The act is named in honor of Christopher Chujoy, a special education instructional aide in the Red Clay Consolidated School District who was diagnosed in August 2022 with stage IV cancer. 

“He was just an absolutely inspirational person, that kind of educator that you hope is educating your children,” Townsend said. “There’s just an energy of enthusiasm, of spirit about him both in staring down his triple diagnosis but also in talking about his role as an educator.”

Chujoy used up all of his available sick time before dying, and his situation raised the issue that is the primary purpose of SB 20.

One-to-one teacher donation fair

Senate Minority Whip Brian Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown, said the one-to-one leave is only fair. 

Tammy Croce, executive director of the Delaware Association of School Administrators, testified in January that her organization is in full support of the law, pointing out that when the two-for-one ratio was set, there weren’t programs set up like short-term disability pay, FMLA and paid parental leave. 

“It’s a good bill, and I’m excited about supporting it,” said Sen. Eric Buckson, R-Dover and a member of the Senate Education Committee. 

“As a 30-year educator., what you may not know is I’ve gotten into a fight with cancer myself, and I’ve seen the emails where they go across the airwaves saying, ‘Hey, can you give some of your sick time to some of your colleagues’,” Buckson said, “and it was always a challenge, because you had to give two of yours to give add one to theirs.”

The bill also:

  • Clarifies how much leave employees of a public school district who do not accrue annual leave must use before being eligible for donated leave. 
  • Clarifies the interaction between donated leave and leave available under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. 

There is no fiscal impact on the state if the bill becomes law.

SB 20 heads to the House, where it will first be heard by a committee and then the entire House floor. If successful at both stops, the bill will head to the governor’s desk for signature to become law.

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