Teaching assistant to forfeit sick days in district agreement

Dave Gymburch
Staff writer
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Posted 7/13/19

A Rome school district tenured teaching assistant who is retiring will not receive payment for 20 unused sick days, in a disciplinary action approved by the Board of Education. The action, as a …

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Teaching assistant to forfeit sick days in district agreement

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A Rome school district tenured teaching assistant who is retiring will not receive payment for 20 unused sick days, in a disciplinary action approved by the Board of Education.

The action, as a penalty for a fraudulent medical note supporting recent use of paid sick leave, involves teaching assistant Bernice Beckwith. It is part of an agreement between Beckwich, the school district, and Local 200 United Service Employees International United of which Beckwith is a member.

The Board of Education at its June 27 meeting approved “an agreement with a tenured teaching assistant” and authorized the school district superintendent to implement it. The board meeting included no further detail or public discussion of it. The Daily Sentinel obtained a copy of the agreement after filing a Freedom of Information Law request with the school district.

The agreement said the district has concerns relating to Beckwith’s “submission of a fraudulent medical note in support of her use of paid sick leave days in April and May 2019.” It also said “the district believes it has just cause for disciplinary action against Ms. Beckwith,” based on her submission of a fraudulent medical note.

In addition, Beckwith “acknowledges that the district has just cause for disciplinary action,” the agreement said. It further noted she “has submitted a letter of resignation for the purpose of retirement effective Aug. 13, 2019....”

The school district “agrees to refrain from preferring disciplinary charges” against Beckwith pursuant to state Education Law, the collective bargaining agreement or any other law “for misconduct related to her use of paid sick leave in April and May 2019....,” the agreement said. Regarding disciplinary action, “the parties agree that, as a penalty her submission of a fraudulent medical note in support of her use of paid sick leave in April and May 2019, Ms. Beckwith shall forfeit twenty (20) sick days,” said the agreement.

It further noted that as of her execution of the agreement, Beckwith’s “previously tendered letter of resignation for the purpose of retirement shall be deemed irrevocable.” Upon retirement, she “shall be entitled to any benefits afforded to retirees under the collective bargaining agreement in effect as of the effective date of her retirement,” the agreement added.

The agreement “is based on unique and compelling circumstances and shall not serve as a precedent with regard to bargaining unit members in the future with circumstances similar to Ms. Beckwith,” according to the document.

The agreement was signed by Beckwith, school district Superintendent Peter C. Blake, and Candance Westcott, president of Local 200 United Service Employees International United.

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