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N4T Investigators: Civil rights officials look into TUSD teacher - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Civil rights officials look into TUSD teacher's complaint

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Civil rights officials looking into TUSD teacher's complaint.

A Tucson Unified School District teacher's accusations of discrimination are now being investigated by state and federal officials.

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, United States Department of Education and Arizona Attorney General's Office are all looking into complaints made by Dean Keller.

Keller told News 4 Tucson Investigator Nick VinZant he made the complaints after being denied access to sick bank time other teachers had donated to him.

"I am very angry. People can't even donate any time to me because since TUSD has said I don't qualify for the program. I'm out of luck," said Keller.

According to a letter sent to Keller, the longtime teacher was denied access to the sick bank because he didn't work enough hours.

However, News 4 Tucson Investigators found that Keller's hours were calculated on a .6 formula instead of the .8 Keller's pay stubs show he worked.

"I think the policy is wrong. It was made by people who have no idea what it's like to be a teacher," said Keller.

There is also some confusion over if Keller should even have to qualify for Family Medical Leave to have access to the sick bank program.

News 4 Tucson Investigators looked through the district's sick bank policy as posted online. We did not find a section specifically saying employees must be FML approved in order to qualify.

In response TUSD officials sent us the following email.

Mr. Keller was approved under the consensus agreement for the Medical 30 (described below), which is what the district is bound to per the consensus agreement. This bargaining unit agreement does not have a waiting period for eligibility for that leave.

Mr. Keller’s  start date of his Extended Medical Leave was 08/01/17.  His return date was initially scheduled for 08/18/17 but was changed to 10/23/17.  Mr. Keller returned to work on 09/05/2017.

The language in the consensus agreement provides that accruals must be exhausted and on an “off-pay Status,” which made him not eligible for sick bank donations.  At this time TEA sick donations apply to those on currently on an active pay status.

TEA Consensus Agreement Article 26:

26-3 Extended Medical Leave (Does not apply to on the job injury)

When a MBU has exhausted his/her sick leave days and is medically unable to return to work, he/she shall be allowed up to thirty (30) consecutive days on an off-pay status, with a doctor’s excuse. During this off-pay status, the District will continue to pay premiums on its portion of District-sponsored insurance plans in which the MBU was enrolled at the beginning of his/her off-duty pay status. At the end of this period, he/she must return to work (pending a medical release), or go on an unpaid leave of absence.

In his civil rights complaint, Keller claims he was discriminated against based on his age and disability.

Keller went on leave last year after having a large tumor removed from his kidney.

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