LOS ANGELES: Parents at an elementary school in San Francisco have expressed outrage after learning that a teacher suffering from cancer and on sick leave is having to pay the school district for her substitute.
The second-grade teacher at Glen Park Elementary is off sick with breast cancer for the rest of the year and has been paying nearly US$200 a day for her replacement, in accordance with state law, local news reports said.
"Parents were outraged and incredulous - like, this can't be," Amanda Fried, who has a daughter in kindergarten and another in third grade, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "There must be some mistake."
A school district spokeswoman, however, told reporters that the payment was not unusual and was in line with state law.
"This is not unique to San Francisco," Laura Dudnick said in a statement. "This is not a district-only rule."
Dudnick explained that teachers in the district get 10 days of sick leave a year and can carry over those sick days year after year if they don't use them.
Once those sick days are exhausted, teachers are then eligible for 100 days of extended sick leave, during which they are entitled to their full pay, minus the cost of a substitute.
On learning about the little-known provision in the state's education code, horrified parents last month began raising money for the popular teacher, who has asked that her name not be disclosed.
A GoFundMe campaign has raised nearly US$14,000 and some of the children are planning bake sales to raise more funds.
"I just feel sad that from what I heard, she is a very good teacher and I just feel sad what's going on (with) her," Narciso Flores-Diaz, a parent, told NBC Bay Area on Wednesday. "Our school is pulling together to help her and to make her feel that she's not alone."
The GoFundMe page says that parents are supporting the 17-year veteran teacher as "she has nurtured our children and now it is time for us to take care of her."
"Just a few days after her surgery, she took the time to write out 22 completely personalized notes to the students in the class thanking them for their support, telling them she missed them dearly and encouraging them to continue working hard," the campaign said.
The head of the union that represents the teachers said the issue might be part of the next round of bargaining talks.
"As always, we look forward to making improvements in this and other parts of the contract," Susan Solomon, president of the United Educators of San Francisco, told the Chronicle.