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District 21 board of trustees votes to OK change in leave time policy

Nov 14, 2013 - By Kelli Ameling, Staff Writer

The Fremont County School District 21 Board of Trustees updated many policies during its October meeting, but it was a leave request that really got the Fort Washakie board talking.

During the meeting Oct. 23, superintendent Terry Ebert said a staff member had received an invitation to be a part of the Thanksgiving Day parade in New York, and Ebert recommended that the board approve the request.

However, because of a district policy, staff members are unable to take personal leave around holidays.

"Personal leave may not be used the day before or the day after a scheduled holiday vacation except in cases of an emergency," reads the policy, which was adopted Sept. 19.

The same policy also describes how employees must split up their leave time throughout the year.

"One half of the leave allocation will be created at the beginning of the school year after the first day of work," the policy states. "Employees will be allowed to use this leave allocation prior to fully accruing it. The remaining days of leave will be available on Jan. 2."

The policy outlined that nine-month employees (fewer than 205 days) receive 10 days of leave per year, while 10-month employees (205 to 230 days) receive 11 days.

Ebert said this has become an issue because some employees have experienced medical emergencies with either themselves or immediate family members and need to use their leave time sooner than is permitted.

The board discussed changing the policy to allow Ebert to make exceptions at his discretion.

"If we make exceptions, then we are throwing the policy out the window," said board treasurer Karen King. "I am specifically talking about the invitation. I do not agree."

The board decided to make two motions regarding the policy.

The first motion amended the policy to allow Ebert to make an exception based on medical emergencies, allowing employees to use the days normally held until after Jan. 2.

The motion passed 5-0.

The second motion was for the recommendation by Ebert to allow a staff member to take a leave of absence around the Thanksgiving break.

The motion passed 4-1 with King voting "no."

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