The family of a teacher who fought for time off to care for his dying wife is fighting to change the Gwinnett County school district's sick time policy. They want teachers to be allowed to help other teachers through donating sick days.
Hannah Rinehart was a cancer survivor. Over the summer she contracted a deadly infection that forced doctors to amputate her feet and hands to try and save her life. Her husband, Mark Rinehart, had to go back to work in the classroom so he could save his time off to be by his wife's side when she hopefully recovered.
David Johnson, Hannah Rinehart's brother, went before the school board on Thursday.
"He missed the last week of her life," said Johnson. "Hannah passed at 4:15 in the morning, so he could be with her not at 2:15 in the afternoon when he's supposed to be teaching algebra."
In August, Hannah Rinehart's family first went before the school board. Mark Rinehart's colleagues had offered to donate their sick days to him, but that is against Gwinnett County School policy. They asked that Mark Rinehart be allowed to use his colleagues' days. The family never received a final answer to that question. Thursday night they did get a response.
"We have a fair benefits package that's sustainable," said J. Alvin Wilbanks, superintendent
"The board really has not had an in depth discussion since you made the request, sir," said Louise Radloff, BOE chair.
Mark Rinehart did not attend the meeting. Hannah Rinehart died two week ago. The family said they still feel compassion from his fellow teachers, but they do not feel it from the school board.
"They absolutely did show a lack of compassion," said Johnson.
The family now plans to take their fight for a policy change to the state house. They said a legislator has already offered to introduce legislation that would force a change in the Gwinnett County policy.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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