Requesting a Leave

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The first formal step toward obtaining a parental leave is a letter to the district superintendent. Stewart Kinley, a field representative for the NEA-affiliated Maine Teachers Association, estimates that in one-third of the cases he oversees, the leave is granted as requested. When a request is denied, union officials advise reviewing the teachers' contract to determine if the action is in compliance with the agreement.

Teachers should also check to determine whether the contract is in compliance with state law, especially since a number of states have recently enacted parental-leave legislation. "There are a lot of unsuspecting employers who may not be aware that a new law has been passed," says Maine labor investigator Royal Bouchard.

The department of labor in each state should be able to provide the current information on parental-leave policy. If the state does set a minimum standard, it is "designed to act as a floor, not a ceiling," says Gregory Humphrey, the director of legislation for the American Federation of Teachers, who notes that teachers may want to explore the possibility of getting additional time off.

Teachers should keep the lines of communication open with the local superintendent, Kinley advises. He points to the speedy and amicable resolution of Karen Cronk's case as a good reason for other teachers to be optimistic. "Administrators are now enlightened to the fact that granting a teacher's request is good business," Kinley says, "because in the long run, you hang on to a good teacher."

Vol. 01, Issue 01, Page 83

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