The state Board of Education approved a new rule Wednesday for handling school employees who are accused of abusing a student. Board attorney, Carol Gretta, says the change complies with a change in law enacted by the legislature in their last session.
Gretta says the legislation and the rule now require that whenever a school employee has been accused of physical or sexual abuse of a student, that employee has to be placed on administrative leave. Administrators used to be able to determine if it was necessary to put the employee on leave.
Gretta says the leave now begins as soon as a complaint is made. “That’s exclusive of whether criminal charges are filed, that’s exclusive of any finding of culpability,” Gretta said.
The rule went through the normal hearing process before the approval. Gretta says some administrators voiced concern about the change.
She says that’s because they felt they were already doing a good job of determining by their judgment when an employee should be placed on a leave when an allegation was made.
Gretta says they were concerned that the new rule takes away that discretion. She says there was also some concern about the cost, as whenever an employee is place on leave the district has to hire a substitute. The school district administrator still has discretion about the pay for the employee on leave.
Gretta says the law does not say anything about whether the person on leave should be paid, and she believes the standard practice has been that the employee is put on paid leave. The board approved the rule at its meeting Wednesday in Des Moines.