The Absent Teacher

The Absent Teacher


For this assignment you will write a 1,500 to 2,000 word essay in which you respond to the scenario below. You must use a minimum of four academic resources. Please review the scenario and use the questions at the conclusion to guide your thinking for the responses. Be sure to use APA formatting for all portions of this assignment. Include a title page, and introduction with a directive thesis, paragraphs that support the thesis, conclusion and a reference page.


The majority of school leaders would agree that substitute teachers are generally not as effective in terms of student learning as contracted classroom teachers. If a contracted teacher is regularly absent, students usually do not perform as well. Most teacher collective bargaining agreements (Unions), allow a certain number of sick days to accumulate, if not used during a given contractual period. It is not unusual for a teacher to “bank” more than 100 days. Considering the following scenario:

Monica has been teaching first grade at Millwood Elementary School for 29 years and is just a few years from retirement. She seldom missed any days during her first 20 years in the system. However, after she banked her allowable 200 sick days, in recent years she routinely used all 10 sick days, 3 days of personal leave, and 5-10 professional leave days each school year. Monica’s sick days consistently fell on Mondays and Fridays. Her pattern of absences has you concerned as you are her new principal. Missing 20 days or more each school year is an issue for her students, who are and were in a crucial time in their academic development. Monica’s class scored much lower on the state mandated tests than the other first grade classrooms for each of the last nine years. As the new school leader you want to change the pattern.

As Monica’s principal you discussed her attendance patterns with her and the school’s union representative. You expressed your concern for her students’ academic progress and your suspicions that she might not really be sick due to all the Monday/Friday absences. Monica informed you that she had a contractual right to take sick leave when she was not feeling well and she could not help that it was on those particular days. The union representative agreed with her. After your meeting with Monica there was no change in her attendance or in her students’ achievement.

While it is not good for a teacher to miss 20 or more days per school year at any grade level, you make the decision that her absences would not be as impactful at a higher grade level so you made the decision to move Monica to fifth grade at the start of the new school year. The move upset Monica and she asked for a meeting. Monica explained to you that she has taught first grade for 29 years and that she feels betrayed. She goes on to tell you that teaching fifth grade will be very difficult, but she has no choice but to accept this position as she is only two years away from retirement.

Once the school year started Monica used her 10 days of contractual sick leave during the first month. When she was at school, her classroom was disorderly and you began to hear complaints from parents. When you called Monica in to discuss the situation with her, she handed you a letter from her doctor stating that the stress of teaching fifth grade was causing her mental and physical ailments. In the doctor’s opinion, she needed to take off three weeks and then return on a limited basis that would allow her to teach two or three days per week.

You concluded that Monica had banked enough sick leave to continue this type of schedule until retirement and you found this to be unacceptable. What legally can you do in this situation?

In your essay please respond to the following questions:

What should you do in order to provide the best possible education for Monica’s students?
Is the school legally obligated to follow the doctor’s recommendation?
Could you relieve Monica of her fifth grade teaching assignment and assign her to other duties where she would have less of an impact?
Could you recommend any disciplinary action or termination of Monica’s contract?
What protection does Monica have that would prevent termination or disciplinary action if any?
Does the school district have the right to ask for a second medical opinion? If so, and the second opinion confirms the first what would be your course of action?
What precedent if any, is this setting for other staff members?
What are the other options/issues do you see in dealing with this situation?

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