Portantino Bill Would Aid School Workers

State Sen. Anthony Portantino has introduced Senate Bill 805, which would prevent school employees from having to use their sick days, vacation days or other paid leave in the event of a natural disaster and the employee faces evacuation threats at 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 the employee has to evacuate their home,’’ said Portantino, whose 25th District includes South Pasadena.

“It just feels wrong, and I was grateful for the suggestion from Superintendent Hill of Burbank to fix the situation.”

In addition, SB 805 also clarifies state law to protect school districts from losing average Daily Attendance (ADA) funding due to disasters, Portantino’s office said.

According to a news release from the senator’s office, the idea came from Burbank Superintendent Matt Hill. Burbank has faced the threat of wildfires and evacuations. Additionally, many of its employees live in areas that have seen threats to property and have had to evacuate.

“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,’’ said Diana Abasta, president of the Burbank Teachers Association.

“The only way they can be compensated is by having to use their own earned time, which can impact them later if they become ill or have an accident and have no more earned time to use.’’

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, Portantino’s office said.