Bill Would Shield School District Employees from Financial Harm During Natural Disasters

State Senator Anthony J. Portantino has introduced SB 805, which prevents school employees from having to use their sick, vacation or other paid leave in the event there is a natural disaster and the employee faces evacuation threats within the home or school.

“School employees should not be forced to use their earned time off when faced with a natural disaster, the state declares a natural disaster, or if [employeed] has to evacuate their home. It just feels wrong and I was grateful for the suggestion from Superintendent Hill of Burbank to fix the situation,” stated Portantino.

In addition, SB 805 also clarifies state law to protect school districts from losing average daily attendance (ADA) funding due to disasters.

The idea for SB 805 was brought to Portantino by Burbank Superintendent Matt Hill. Burbank has faced the threat of wildfires and evacuations. Additionally, many of its employees also live in areas that have seen threats to property and have had to evacuate.

Diana Abasta, president of the Burbank Teachers Association, said, “Our members reached out and told us about the degree of hardship created when there is a natural disaster and, through no fault of theirs, are unable to come to work. The only way they can be compensated is by having to use their own earned time that can impact them later if they become ill or have an accident and have no more earned time to use. We brought this issue forward to Supt. Hill and are very happy to see that Senator Portantino has responded with an effective proposal in the form of a bill.”

Under current law, no protections for school district employees are in place for when a natural disaster occurs. It is required for them to use their own personal earned time off to make up for those hours lost in a natural disaster. Establishing SB 805 will place protections on school employees who earned sick, vacation, and paid time off and ensure school districts earn their average daily attendance (ADA) funding when California declares a natural disaster.