Teachers denied $1,200 stipend for taking maternity leave
BATON ROUGE - Some teachers who went on maternity leave during the 2021-2022 school year missed out on a $1,200 stipend approved by East Baton Rouge Parish School System. One of those teachers, who does not want to be identified, reached out to 2 On Your Side to bring awareness.
School is out for summer in East Baton Rouge Parish and educators are thankful to have some extra money in their pockets. The board approved a $1,200 stipend for Certified Staff and $600 for all other district staff. It was processed for direct deposit on April 21, 2022. When this teacher found out about the stipend, she checked her bank account but didn't find the deposit.
"I immediately had questions," she said.
To qualify for that stipend, the board-approved eligibility requirements say that you must be an active full-time employee that has not missed more than 20 workdays during the school year. Employees on leave without pay or in a pending status will not be eligible for the stipend. Approved COVID-19 leave days do not count against the stipend eligibility, but apparently, maternity leave does.
"I found out that it was because I was on maternity leave that I did not receive that stipend," she said.
Since she took eight weeks, or 40 days using accumulated sick time she earned over her working years in the district, she's ineligible. The information is not sitting well with her.
"It makes me feel underappreciated, undervalued, and frustrated," she said. "Speaking as a woman, this wouldn't happen to a man in my position."
Caring for her child isn't the only thing she did while on maternity leave.
"I also interacted with parents and I interacted with coworkers, and before I could leave I wrote eight weeks of lesson plans for the sub in my class to take over my classroom flawlessly and smoothly so there were no disruptions for the students," she said.
Now, this teacher is speaking up for her colleagues.
"To know that our district doesn't stand behind us is disheartening," she said.
In EBRPSS, about 80% of the certified staff is female, and maternity leave is unpaid. According to the district's policy, an employee who becomes pregnant is eligible for maternity leave and can either choose maternity leave or use current and accumulated sick leave.
She is not the only teacher who gave birth and took maternity leave this past school year and says others in the district have reached out to her with similar concerns. The teacher says she emailed board members and the superintendent. She didn't receive a response from Dr. Sito Narcisse until her third try and then it was referred to general counsel and Human Resources.
WBRZ started asking questions regarding the stipend on May 17 and those questions were not answered.