Under state law, each school employee is entitled to five days of personal leave per year with no limit on accumulation. School districts have the discretion to provide additional personal leave beyond this minimum. Pursuant to a TCTA-initiated law, school employees may choose the order in which they take state and locally granted personal leave days. The district may adopt a policy governing the use of personal leave, although legislative intent was that such policies should manage only the scheduling of personal days (for example, prohibiting the use of personal leave on student assessment days, the last day of school, etc.). A district may not limit the reasons for which personal leave may be taken. This prohibition applies to state personal leave but may not apply to local personal leave. As a result, districts granting local leave may presumably restrict the purposes for which it can be used (e.g., requiring an employee to have a medical reason to request local sick leave), though this issue has not been litigated.
The law also allows up to two years of paid assault leave for teachers to recover from injuries suffered in a work-related assault. If an employee requests assault leave in writing, the district must grant it immediately, and the leave may not be deducted from the employee’s accrued personal leave (unless the claim is found to be invalid). A TCTA-initiated law clarifies that a district may not deny assault leave based on the mental capacity of the assailant.
Districts must provide at least 180 calendar days of unpaid disability leave for any educator whose condition (as certified by a physician) interferes with the performance of work duties. Before returning to duty, the educator must give the district at least 30 days’ written notice and a doctor’s statement of fitness. Temporary disability leave covers inability to perform work duties due to pregnancy and postnatal recovery, but not child care. An educator’s employment contract may not be terminated while he/she is on a leave of absence for temporary disability.
Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, districts with 50 or more employees must allow up to 12 weeks of family leave for a serious health condition that renders the employee unable to perform his/her job or for such condition of a spouse, parent or child. Any employee who has been employed for at least 1,250 hours during the preceding 12-month period also may take 12 weeks of leave within 12 months of the birth or adoption of a child. The district may pay the employee during leave, but this is not required.
A TCTA-initiated law provides that employees on military leave may use any accumulated sick or personal leave and clarifies that school employees may take up to 15 days of military leave without loss of leave time for service in the reserves or state military forces. Districts also may adopt policies providing for fully paid leave during military service as part of the consideration of employment in a district.
Most districts’ leave policies are designated as DEC (local) and can be found by searching for the district’s name and policy online.