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Some teachers docked pay for February absences

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
April 11, 2011
— Some of the Janesville teachers who took a day off to protest in Madison in February will be docked a day's pay.

Dozens of Janesville teachers called in sick Feb. 17 and 18 to join the protests at the state Capitol.


Public employees from across the state joined the protests of Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair bill. Some of the bill's provisions would strip public workers of most of their collective- bargaining rights.


The Legislature approved the bill, but it is not yet in effect. The process by which it was passed remains the subject of court challenges that ultimately could be decided by the state Supreme Court.


So many teachers called in sick the night of Feb. 17 that school in Janesville was canceled Feb. 18.


Protests grew at the Capitol and continued into following weeks, although the school district did not experience further problems. Many teachers continued to attend the protests after their workday ended.


The Janesville School District released the following numbers after the Gazette requested an accounting:


-- Feb. 1784 teacher absences were called in. Fifty-one of those submitted approved excuses, such as a note from a doctor. Thirty-three will be docked a day's pay.


The district was on the brink of shutting down on that Thursday, human services director Steve Sperry said at the time. They remained open by using substitutes and by having other teachers or administrators fill in.


-- Feb. 18113 teacher absences were called in. Fifty-eight submitted approved excuses. Fifty-five face disciplinary action, most likely a letter of reprimand, said Angel Tullar, manager of employee relations.


The teachers who were absent Feb. 18 will be making up that time by working on the school makeup day, May 27, so their pay is not being docked, Tullar said.


School officials are not able to determine which teachers had legitimate reasons for not being at work on those days and those who did not.


Teachers and other public employees are not allowed to strike, and teachers-union leaders did not call on members to leave their jobs to join the protests.


The Wisconsin Education Association Council, to which Janesville teachers belong, on Feb. 16 called for "all Wisconsinites who are able to come to the Capitol on Thursday and Friday and stand beside your neighbors, family and friends to help our voices be heard. Our goal is not to close schools but to instead to remain vigilant in our efforts to be heard."


Janesville teachers union President Dave Parr did not respond to a request for comment.



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