'Insulting': How one educator feels over state board's memo on mental health days
One frustrated educator is voicing concerns over a memo from state leaders that addresses the legality of school districts giving staff and students mental health days off.Posted — Updated
The memo from the State Board of Education outlines what state statutes allow. But the educator said that, regardless, staff and students need that time away.
The educator has worked in public schools for 20 years, and when they read the memo from the State Board of Education, they were not happy. That's because their district had to rework its plan for staff members to have "professional development hours" they say don't really matter.
"I hate to say the word insulting, but it is," said the educator, who wanted to remain anonymous. "Even though you complete those professional development hours, you don't receive continuing education renewal credits toward the renewal of your license."
The memo from the state reminded school district leaders planning to provide mental health days that students must complete a certain number of days and hours of instruction. The same goes for staff for work hours.
Each school calendar must consist of 215 days, while all public schools must provide a minimum of 185 instructional days or 1,025 hours per academic year.
Keith Sutton, chairman of the Wake County Board of Education, said Friday, Nov. 12, was chosen for students to have off because it worked with the holiday schedule. Schools are already closed on Thursday, Nov. 11, for Veterans Day.
"The 12th was the one that sort of made sense," said Sutton. "For staff and teachers, it is a remote work day and meant to think about, reflect, plan for the remainder of the school year in given what we know has been a difficult time"
Sutton says he read the state's memo, but Wake County is using time already set aside in the school calendar.
The memo, however, makes it clear: Districts are not allowed to "give" extra paid leave days to employees other than time allowed through state statute.
"I understand there are statutes," said the educator. "But I think there are ways to get around some of that because nothing has been normal for several years now."
On Thursday night, the North Carolina Association of Educators sent WRAL News a statement on the state's memo, noting the physical and mental impacts the pandemic are having on staff and students.
The statement also says the association hopes the State Board of Education will continue to provide flexibility to schools.
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