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Teachers Seek to Donate Days to Sick Colleague

Faculty waits on BOE approval to create 'sick bank' for West Morris Central nurse with breast cancer.

One hundred and fifty of the 240 faculty members within the West Morris Regional School District’s Teacher’s Association have signed a petition allowing for a donation of sick days to an ill colleague.

But it’s up to the Board of Education to allow the action to happen, and has been in their hands since October, according to Teacher’s Association President Joyce Hartmann. Superintendent Mackey Pendergrast has been aware of the issue since September, Hartmann said. 

The action, which would create a “sick bank” for an ill colleague–Susan Moor, a nurse at West Morris Central–would take donated sick days from faculty members willing to contribute for Moor to use as she battles breast cancer. Moor is out of available sick days, since she used them when her 8-year-old daughter died last spring, Hartmann said.

The donated sick days would be used by Moor, who is unable to work as she undergoes treatment for her disease, Hartmann said. Each faculty member, under contract, receives 10 sick days and four personal days annually.

Whatever days aren’t used during a teacher’s tenure can be accumulated and capped at 150 to be paid out (no more than $15,000) upon retirement, Hartmann said.

In the case of a sick bank, the donated days would be held by the board of education. Whatever days were not used would be given back to faculty members on a first come, first served basis, Hartmann said.

“[Faculty] has done this in the past outside of our contract to help colleagues in the same situation,” Hartmann said. “We tried to put this in the current contract, but weren’t able to before settling.”

The teachers’ current contract ends June 30, 2013.

Hartmann made the issue public at the board's Monday, Nov. 12 meeting when she addressed the body during open session. 

There are four options for the board to consider as outlined by legal counsel, Hartmann said, including: the sick bank as outlined by Hartmann; the sick bank, giving Moor the ability to use the days minus the cost of a substitute in her absence; do nothing; and to give Moor the sick days in addition to paying the substitute on a daily basis.

If the action went through to allow the sick bank with donated days from each of the 150 signed faculty members, that “would more than meet [Moor’s] needs,” Hartmann said.

Moor is aware of what her colleagues are attempting to do but did not initiate the process, Hartmann said. Moor would be eligible for Family Medical Leave through the state, but a significantly lower rate of pay. 

Pendergrast said the board would continue to research its options on the topic. The next board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Dec. 10 at Mendham High School.

This article is posted on Long Valley and Mendham-Chester Patch sites. 

Add November 16, 2012 at 02:28 AM
Wow, how hard it must be for this woman. Life is unfair, the least the bd of ed could do is agree to a simple request.
Jersey November 16, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Forgive me if I'm missing something, but based on the article, the BOE should be ashamed for not passing the measure by now. If there is a good reason why it should be opposed, I hope a representative lays it out for us. If not, pass it for God's sake.
kate engelhardt November 16, 2012 at 11:28 AM
I agree this woman has been through more than any of us will see in a lifetime ,BOE give her a break I would be ashamed living in a school district that would not act and do the right thing. Kuodos to all those teachers!!!
delwood dame November 16, 2012 at 12:11 PM
I think it would be a very honorable and "compassionate" policy to institute immediately and have available for future need(s) especially for those with less years of service. My mother went through something similar and her HS teaching colleagues offered the same so she could reach her maximum benefits. I do recall she had to go back for just 3 or 4 days to reach a certain milestone. Unfortunately, she passed away but I'll never forget their efforts from administration on down to her department in supporting her. Don't think it ever got to the Union level.
ca November 16, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Is the BOE truly this uncaring? Is the BOE seriously going to try and "figure out" whether or not they should allow teachers to donate their sick days to a woman with cancer? The BOE has known about this since September, and they need more time to "research" the options? Is this the way our tax dollars are being spent? Is there nothing else they could be focusing on? The teachers have made a wonderful (personal) decision to help Mrs Moor the best way they can, giving her time to heal. They are DONATING their sick days it costs the district NOTHING. Let these teachers HELP her in this small way. BOE you should be embarrassed, for so many reasons, but this is simply unacceptable.
ACE November 16, 2012 at 01:01 PM
The BOE needs to cut through the legal mumbo jumbo and do what's right. The teachers want to help their colleague. It costs the district nothing. What's the problem?
Anne Clark November 16, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Because there is a cost to the District, the Board must understand what it is before approving it. As the union has said, this is a contract matter that wasn't addressed. I agree that the Board should act with all due haste, but taxpayers have supported capping payouts on sick days and the consequence is that they do not accumulate indefinitely. Therefore, there is a cost. Will the mayors and taxpayers agree to adding this cost to the current tax increase? I think the Board is right to tread carefully. I support the Board working with the Teacher's Association to find a solution to support Ms. Moor as best we can in her time of need.
concerned November 16, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Wow, Anne Clark. Seems to me in this once isolated case of a woman who has suffered as much as a mother can suffer in losing her child and then to be diagnosed with cancer that there should have been a ruling in favor of her humanity - in this one case and 'cost' be damned. Hope you and your family are healthy and never have to face any of the horrors Ms. Moor lives with every day of her life. Compassion should lead in this case as the circumstances are so incredible. Compassion over cost. Period.
Mrs.C November 16, 2012 at 05:40 PM
The only cost to the Board is the cost of a substitue teacher which would be offset by the donor teachers not using the days donated. Period! This poor woman needs help NOW!
yvonne manfra November 17, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Why is this not already an option as it is at so many companies. The board needs to get this done. They teach our children about community service what could be more illustrative and CORRECT. Ycm
Anne Clark November 17, 2012 at 10:07 PM
I guess you missed my last sentence where I stated that I support working to find a solution. If you would use your name as I do it might also help the Board see that there are people in the community that will publicly support a decision to find a solution as I have advocated. I'm glad you acknowledge that there is a cost as many others who have commented above have not. For all concerned and willing to take some time to contact the Board, you can find their official BOE e-mail addresses on the WMRHSD website.
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Lt.Dan January 28, 2013 at 04:52 PM
It is a laudable idea and I think it should be allowed on a compassionate interim basis in this case and then hashed out in the new contract this year. It raises a lot of logistical questions. This situation is for disability, really. There is nothing new under the sun, this must have been broached in other districts in similar situations with lessons learned. Jason, get on your horse.
LVMom January 31, 2013 at 02:32 PM
sometimes the best thing to do is act first then worry about logistics later. this woman needs help NOW. the family has been through too much. as far as precedence. if someone else looses their child then gets diagnosed with cancer within 12 months this SHOULD be precedence. this brings tears to my eyes every time i think about it.

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