Teacher battling breast cancer forced to pay for substitute while on medical leave

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO/CNN) – Parents are outraged after learning that a beloved San Francisco teacher is having to pay for her own substitute while on medical leave for breast cancer.

But critics said it’s all due to language in California state law that’s been on the books for more than 40 years.

The woman, who’s not being identified, teaches second grade at Glen Park Elementary. Her friends said she suffers from breast cancer, and all the attention is causing her extra stress – including a GoFundMe page that has recently stopped accepting donations for her.

The page was started to help pay for the substitute teachers her paychecks were funding.

But it’s a reality all public school teachers in California have to face.

Right now, teachers get 10 sick days per year, then they can take medical leave for 100 days. During that entire time, the cost of a substitute teacher is taken out of their paychecks.

If more time is needed, teachers can take from a catastrophic sick leave bank, donated by other teachers, for 85 days.

"We'd love to change it, but we're working in a public school system that's been financially on starvation," said Eric Heins, president of the California Teachers Association.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, especially for those who know the teacher and those who work in the school.

"She's wonderful,” said parent Abby Hipps. “She's a beautiful, lovely, great teacher. She's one of the best teachers. So, it's terrible."

A spokesperson for the California Department of Education declined comment to the San Francisco Chronicle about the policy.

Public school teachers in California are also unable to draw benefits from the state’s disability insurance program, because they don’t pay into it.

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