Recently we had a second grade teacher elected to the board of supervisors. This teacher is very dedicated to the school system and is an excellent teacher. The teacher decided that he/she wanted to attend the afternoon school board meetings to ”represent” the supervisors as well as to gain a better understanding of the issues affecting our school system, from the school board’s perspective. Given that relationships between the school board and the supervisors has been somewhat estranged… the idea of having one of our “own” take such an interest in division concerns as well as county concerns was revitalizing to say the least.
There was however, a small concern. In the past the board has traditionally met at night, except twice a year to academically recognize students for awards and accomplishments. This fall the board voted to mix it up a bit. They decided to meet six times per year in the afternoon and six times a year at night. This caused some concern for our new supervisor. Afternoon meetings meant the teacher would not be able to attend the meetings because his/her classroom would be left unattended. Given this public office, the teacher felt the school should provide coverage for the classroom. But there was no policy to support such an activity or attendance.
The superintendent wrote a policy revision to include civil leave. This civil leave would allow the teacher as a representative of the county agency to attend the school board meetings without being docked salary or leave time. The provision was written under GCBD-R. This civil leave policy would allow the superintendent or his/her designee the “discretion to approve application for leave with full pay for any absences”…. “for public service activity such as service on government boards” and states that the approval is contingent upon the organizations ability to provide coverage and “continuity of the school program”.
This inclusion in the policy adds a touch of the human relations element in the midst of the political arena. Looking at the policy ethically, one might ask how this policy might be abused. The policy clearly states service on government boards… What happens when the teacher is asked to attend a conference on behalf of the county? Would a two or three day absence be covered at the school’s expense?
Many times policies are written very broad. This allows for many interpretations for use and misuse. In this particular case, this is the first time we have an educator that will be serving on the county supervisory board. We are so delighted to have some inside representation; no one has even questioned this revision. So, have we laid aside our ethics for a little hope at some inside connections? In this case, the teacher is a dedicated individual with proven professionalism in the field of education. As in most initial cases, no foreseeable problem……