Teacher Unable To Take Emergency Sick Leave After Daughter's Brain Surgery

Andrew Greenstein
April 27, 2018 - 6:12 am

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ALEDO (1080 KRLD) - A Fort Worth ISD teacher finds herself in a battle with the school district after her daughter is forced to undergo a major medical procedure.

Jill Kirby is a second grade teacher at Lily B. Clayton Elementary School. Earlier this month, her 12-year-old daughter Grace was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

"In the little hollow part of your brain that holds your spinal fluid - it was actually inside of there," Kirby explained. Miraculously, it turned out that the tumor was benign. Despite that, Grace has a long road to recovery ahead of her.

"She's allowed to go back to school next week," Kirby says, "but it can only be part-time. So we're just going to go a couple days for half days."

Kirby used the rest of her sick leave for the school year to care for Grace as she was undergoing brain surgery. But when she put in for emergency sick leave, the Fort Worth ISD said no.

"I talked to four different people, and they basically said that since she wasn't terminally ill, that they had to deny it," Kirby says.

Kirby says she talked to her union, but the union told her there was little it could do.

She says even though the Family Medical Leave Act is an option, it's for the most part counterproductive. "That is just to guarantee that I will still have a job. It doesn't pay anything, Kirby says. "We have no idea what our (medical) bills will be, but it's going to be astronomical."

So since she and her husband, who also teaches in the Fort Worth ISD, need to go back to work, the challenge is to find people who can watch Grace as she continues her recovery.

"I'm just counting on some friends," Kirby says. "I actually had some friends that said they would take off work and take turns keeping her for me."

The Fort Worth ISD would not comment specifically on Kirby's situation, citing confidentiality. It did say, though, that all processes have been or will be followed according to the district's policies and all applicable law.