Board discusses procedures for employee leaves
by Briana Webster
Dec 14, 2013 | 1928 views | 0 0 comments | 43 43 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A brief meeting was held Thursday night at the Walker County Board of Education where board members discussed an issue regarding leaves of absence.

Before the session began, Sipsey Jr. High School students Karmyn Busby, Chris Busby, Alayna Holley, Jadyden Holley and Phillip Johnson led board members, superintendent Jason Adkins and those who attended in the pledge of allegiance.

While reviewing the leaves and resignations, Adkins mentioned that there were several on that list who were either ill or had taken maternity leave. District 2 board member Dale Reeves asked if he could address the board with a question on the matter.

“Some of us have talked about this. A lot of these people that’s on this list have already been home, have been to the hospital and are already back to work. I know that’s extra paperwork on [board secretary] Cherrie right there for having to write this and type it up,” Reeves said. “It looks like there would be an easier way to take care of that. If we said tonight that we’re not going to approve these, what are these people going to do? They’ve done been off. The payroll is already taken care of, looks like there would be a simpler way to handle it.”

John Skalnik, director of operations and accountability, tried to clarify the discussion by adding, “Some people don’t even ask for a leave if they have plenty of sick leave to be off for a week or two, but some people do because they have no leave and they want to take advantage of the Family Medical Leave Act and protect their jobs,” Skalnik said. “So, to that extent it’s a formality. The short leaves happen because we only meet once a month. Most of the time if they have sick leave, they don’t even let us know they’re off four days. Some people don’t have leave, and they’re seeking to protect their jobs when they request a formal request.” 

Basically, the board would like to keep the leaves current and up to date where they will be able to approve the absences before they are taken. Reeves also suggested not having to deal with approving them at all, and just leaving the decision to the discretion of the school’s administration.

“Well, it goes back to that new policy where prior to, people were taking advantage of sick leave, and then we said that if you took more than three consecutive sick days you had to have an excuse,” Adkins said. “... I think it’s a legitimate request, and I think we can do better and we’ll check into it and make sure that we do everything we can to make that so.” 

After the meeting Adkins added, “In the past, there were instances where people — for whatever purposes whether it be political, or good ole boy, or buddy system or whatever — would be allowed, against state law, to take sick leave for a solid year; therefore, you’re paying their full salary through local funds, plus paying whoever’s in the classroom working and while at the same time, people maybe driving a bus or things like that.

“So, a tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars and abuse of the process of leave and things of that nature, so one of the first things we did was adopt a policy to follow the state law that says if you miss more than three consecutive sick days that you have to have legitimate purposes for that, approval by a doctor’s excuse or something of that nature.” 

In other business, the board: 

•approved the minutes of the Nov. 14 meeting.

•accepted the bank reconciliation for October 2013.

•approved all personnel lists.

•approved two Walker County Center of Technology trips — one trip is for the Robotics Regional Competition in Louisiana in April and the other one to the Huntsville Space and Rocket Center in January. The board also approved a Dora High School wrestling team trip to Gulf Breeze, Fla., in January.

•approved non-faculty, volunteer coach Adrian Woods to help coach basketball at Dora High School.

The next board meeting will be Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, at 4:30 p.m.