Do Teachers Get a Certain Number of Personal Days per Year?

Updated on October 19, 2011
T.M. asks from Tampa, FL
22 answers

I have posted similar questions before, but this continues to be an issue. My son's kindergarten teacher seems to miss quite a bit of time. We haven't even finished the first grading period and she has missed at least 5-6 days that I know of...which does seem excessive to me. We recently found out that she is pregnant which I am sure contributed to some of the days. However, I am just wondering about most school teachers typically get a certain number of days to use throughout the year? What happens when they exceed their allotted time. I truly do like this teacher and she seems to do a very good job with my son when she is there. I worry because on the days that my son has a substitute, he doesn't seem to be able to tell me much about what he did that day...his homework is not checked. It really doesn't seem to be the same level of learning when she is not there. I REALLY don't want to say anything to the school about this, but it does bother me.

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So What Happened?

Admittedly, I am obsessingl about this...I do work full time and have since both of my kids have been born. I do understand the need to take time off for some things. My Dh and I alternate when if is time to take off for sick kids. I don't want to call and get labeled as "that" mom which is why I am using you all as a sounding board. I also do not want my son moved since he has established friendships already. And yes I did talk to the teacher about plans for when she is out... I just got vague and wishy washy answers.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I'd rather my son have an awesome teacher that misses a half dozen days per grading period than a mediocre teacher that never misses!
Careful what you wish for.
And it's KINDERGARTEN, for Pete's sake!
He'll be fine.

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answers from San Francisco on

The only way you are going to find out is to call the school or school district office as it varies. Honestly, they may not be obligated to tell you.

I did some substituting a few years back and I can tell you that as long as the teacher leaves a clear lesson plan kindergarten is the easiest class to sub in, and everything gets done. I'd be more concerned with a 4th/5th teacher being gone a lot.

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answers from Dallas on

It seems that you are really obsessing about this way too much.

If it truly concerns you this much, talk to the principal and be prepared to have yourself "marked" as "one of those moms" for the entirety of your child's schooling at this school.

Substitutes are trained. We also go to extra training AT NO PAY to make sure we are on top of things as far as certain curriculums, lesson planning, etc.

Why don't you volunteer in the classroom. That way you can see what is going on, the teachers NEED good volunteers who care about the children and you ovbiously care that your child does well.

I just don't understand why you believe teachers are non human beings with no responsibility in the world except to make sure your child is educated. Teachers have families too... they get sick... they get pregnant... Lighten up or this will drain you for the next 18 yrs.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Yes, teachers are entitled to personal days, sick days, and comp time - none of which they are required to answer to you for.

For me, it is more work to prep my classes for a sub than it is for me to be at work - I make complete lessons, directions, organize everything, and have educational objectives for the day. I always prefer to just be at work, but sometimes (as when I was pregnant and had a little one at home) I had to miss. I have a life and a career and work my tail off to be my best at both. I was criticized by some parents for scaling back on my after school activities when I had my family. God forbid your children don't get to do something "just because" I need to be with mine. To those parents I say, Too bad. Get over yourselves.

Do you really think your son's education is suffering? You can always be doing supplemental activities with him on those days. Indeed, at the K level, all of life is learning. I think you're being needlessly obsessive and overly concerned over this.

The school cannot refuse to allow a teacher his / her allotted days, but teachers know that going over that number can jeopardize their positions.

Maybe our kids would be better off if we returned to the schoolmarm days where teachers couldn't date, marry, or have children so they can invest 100% into everyone else's. Sounds reasonable...

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Yes, they get personal days and sick days..

Since you had your son have you ever worked full time out of your home for a year or more?

If you have you know that every time he gets sick, you needed to take off from work. Each time, he or you needed to go to a doctors appointment, dentist appt.. ect.. this has to be done on a week day. More time off
If you were working full time AND pregnant, how much time did you need to take off for a healthy pregnancy? Were you still able to get your work done in a timely manner and good quality work?

Your sons class is still learning and following this teachers plans even when she is not there. .
These are real teachers that are subbing.

If you want your son moved to another teachers room, request it and be honest about why, so they can match YOU up with the right teacher.

Your son is 5. Asking a question like "what did you do today in class today" is too broad.. It needs to be, "what story did you hear today?", "Who did you play with on the play ground?" If they went to music, "what did you sing in music?" "Did you get to play an instrument?"
"What is the letter of the week?" "What is the number of the week?"

Your perception is through the eyes of a 5 year old BOY. It makes a difference. Most moms of boys will tell you, they are not very good about giving you information about what went on at school each day.

Maybe offer to help in any way. Ask about volunteering to help her.

The homework deal is going to drive you insane as he gets older. The teachers many times do not grade each day.. It can take a week sometimes to get them back and graded..

I also suggest you meet with the teacher and explain how you feel. It is obvious you are just not pleased with this situation. And if you want your child moved, ask for it, be honest. They may be able to accommodate you but if not, it will be your choice. Accept it or send your child to another kindergarten program.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

What exactly do you think will happen if you say something to the school? Surely his homework is checked the next day when she's back. It's not the sub's responsibility to correct or check homework. The teacher is not missing several days in a row. She's missed a total of 5 days since the beginning of the year, and if they're days she's earned/allowed to take then she doesn't need your approval and school won't do anything about your complaint.

Your son not discussing his day when there's a substitute doesn't sound like a problem to me. Are you insinuating that the sub doesn't do anything on those days? That's the kids are languishing in boredom? Teachers have to have lesson plans set for weeks if not full semesters ahead of time so that every week if not day is planned out to show the school, and then when there are subs or other teachers covering they know exactly what to do.

I'm sorry, but you really do seem to be obsessing over this. Unless your child is special needs and a sub isn't following your child's IEP and he's suffering due to routine changes and transition changes and the approach to learning is not tailored to him as it should be, then I don't think you have a valid complaint.

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answers from San Antonio on

When I taught we got a certain number of days and then our pay was docked each day after that.

I agree is so very much harder to miss than be there...I taught through colds, migraines and morning sickness. Believe me for me to miss I had to be SICK!!! I even taught while I was miscarrying.

Please cut the teacher some slack...yes, you are totally obsessing about this...I think this is the third or fourth post about this I have read.

Last year, I never even knew when my son's Kindergarten teacher was absent. He is not very talkative about school.

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answers from Boston on

I get 15 sick days a year and 3 personal days. My district asks for us to submit personal day requests at least a week ahead of time, so if his teacher has her own sick kid at home or has a complication with her pregnancy that comes up suddenly, chances are she uses a sick day. Sick days accumulate, personal days don't, so if she is saving sick days for maternity leave in the spring, trust me, she wants to hang on to them. Once they run out, she does not get paid. Some years are just like this; clearly she has a lot going on, but maybe her own child has been sick a lot? I have had years like that, where I feel like I am out at least once a week because I'm sick or one of my kids is sick. Then there are months when I have no day off at all. As others have said, it is a RIDICULOUS amount of work for a teacher to leave plans and be out, and once we return to the classroom, we are usually making up for being out for at least a day! Teachers hate missing school, please believe me. If I were you, I'd try to relax a bit and keep an open mind, and don't blame her not being there for the reason your son might not be telling you every detail of what went on during a particular day. I have read your other posts about this teacher and your concerns, but I think you need to remember that she has a life too and that life must come before her students'. It seems as if you are waiting for the other shoe to drop, and using any indication that it might happen to get upset all over again. If you truly don't want to be "that" parent, then don't. Trust me, she likely knows full well how you are feeling without you saying a word. We teachers are pretty smart like that!

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answers from El Paso on

The last district I taught in we had:

10 sick days and 2 "emergency" days per year for free. We also had 2 "personal" days where the cost of the sub came out of our paycheck and 20 "sick contingency" days where the cost of the sub also came out of our paycheck. All that being said, our sick days rolled over from year to year. So, say you've been teaching for 4 years, and in those first three years, you only used 2 sick days. That would mean you now have 28 sick days from the first three years plus the 10 for this year that you have for free. I know the policy was the same in the district I did my student teaching in as well, so I assume it's a pretty common policy.

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answers from San Antonio on

In Texas, you get "state days" and "local days". Each year teaching, lets say you get 6 of each. So your first year you could take off 12 days of school total. Local days stay in the district you teach in, so if you move districts, you lose any days you've accumulated. State days stay with you if you stay in the state. So. Let's say she's been teaching 3 years and has taken off NO days of school due to dr appts or what-not. So in Texas, she'd have 36 days that she can take off of school if she stayed in that district. Make sense?

I see a lot of teachers that are on their last year of teaching before retiring and they'll take off 1 or 2 days each week b/c they've saved them up all those years.

How long has she been teaching? When I was pregnant, I was able to use all of my saved 'days off' for about a month off of school (my son was born in April). So half of april I used my personal days and my paycheck was the same amount it always is. Then in May, for about two weeks, I'd used up all my personal days, so they docked my paycheck for the rest of the school year. So if your teacher exceeds her allotted time (which she may have a LOT saved up), they will just dock her pay. Granted - all states are different. This is how it worked for me here in Texas.

Added: I agree with Cheryl - just ask the principal, or even the secretary how it works in your area. They should have no problem teling you, granted they will likely not tell you exactly how many days your son's teacher has. But you can ask "When she goes on maternity leave, do you have a long-term sub set up to take her place? Or will it be a different sub each day?" Most principals would likely look into a long-term sub to plan to be there for 2 or 3 months in a row.

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answers from Omaha on

I can tell you as a former teacher and now as a substitute teacher that schools and teachers do try to retain the best subs they can to make that "sick or personal" day as smooth as possible for the kids. Most districts require a sub to have a valid teaching certificate on file in order to sub, not just an X amount of college credit hours. While I can't speak specifically for your school district, I can say it has been my experience that many subs are retired teachers from that school or are requested personally by the teacher. All school secretaries have a list of "preferred subs" on hand to call at a moment's notice. Like other people have posted, it is harder to miss a day than to just go, so teachers like to have a really good sub in there that is going to maintain good classroom control and get lessons done that were planned.
I can tell you too that I have been a sahm for about 4 years and just recently decided to start subbing. Due to the economy and lay-offs there is an overabundance of exemplary subs in our area alone, so many districts aren't even hiring for them. Fortunately for me, I still have enough contacts and solid credentials that I was able to get my foot back in the door. The point I am trying to make is don't worry too much about your child's teacher being gone for 4 or 5 days. It really won't matter too much over the course of the school year. If she becomes too ill (with morning sickness or whatever) then they will most likely try to get a long-term substitute in there to create a more consistent environment for the students.

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answers from Washington DC on


i don't know the answer. I do know that our school district/union gives plenty of personal days.

I know how important it is when your kid connects with the teacher!

I would talk to the principal and find out the sick/personal day policy and how they are going to handle her maternity leave so you can prepare your son for the new teacher!

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answers from Tulsa on

We got 3 and if we didn't use them, they paid us for them extra.

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answers from Charlotte on

She does get personal days. She gets sick days too. And if she goes over those, she gets a smaller paycheck.

When my older son was in 4th grade, his teacher, a wonderful woman, was absent a lot because her husband had brain cancer. When he was on death's door, she took a leave of absence and didn't come back for a few months after her husband died. We all loved her, and yes, it was hard for my son and his classmates with a substitute, but he did alright. By the end of the year, they made up the work.

The subs are usually given lesson plans (much easier now because of emailing) so the kids at least get through part of what was planned, if not all. If you have the time, you could go in and volunteer if you know there is a sub. She would probably love to have you check the homework.

Good luck,

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answers from Orlando on

People have personal lives too even teachers, she got pregnant she's allowed to do so. Maybe this is a rough pregnancy, I wasn't able to do anything the first 18 weeks. If it bothers you ask to have your son moved, if your not wanting to say anything then suck it up and help him deal with it.

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answers from New York on

Yes, it is very common for teachers to be allowed sick and personal days. It all depends what's in their contract. In our district, it's very common for the teacher to be out of the classroom but actually working by attending a district conference, a field trip with another class, attending workshops, etc.

If the situation continues, then you should contact the principal and calmly discuss your concerns.

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answers from Lewiston on

In our district a teacher has sick days, and a personal day. Unused sick days may be accumulated. Unused personal day is lost. If a teacher exceeds their sick leave / personal time then they are docked per diem for each day beyond their allocated days of leave.
Teachers need to have lesson plans for the sub when they are absent. Some days teachers are at workshops, or district training or curriculum development. I always found being out of the classroom more work, than being with my students. One frustration was subs did not always follow our lesson plans.
Good luck.
Why an individual is absent is not public info. In our district when one calls in sick, they do need to tell why they are going to be out.
Our contract is online, available for anyone to read. Neighboring district contracts are also on line. You may be able to find your district contract online. In our state it is public info, along with our salaries, and those of all public employees.
If you have time, maybe you would like to volunteer in your child's school, and or become involved in the PTO. Many districts appreciate the help of the volunteers. You may need to be fingerprinted and have a background check in order to volunteer in the school.

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answers from Minneapolis on

When I was teaching I had 10 sick days and 2 personal days off. It was a lot of work to miss a day of school for me. I was a special ed teacher so I had a ton of paperwork. Sometimes I would take a sick day just to sit at home and get caught up on all my IEP's and assessment reports. I never had any prep time during the day because 2 of my students were self contained EBD, so the only time I had to do paperwork and planning was at home after school. I hated it! So glad I don't have to do that now that I have my own kids at home. Being a SAHM is so much better! Maybe she is having a difficult pregnancy and has a lot of doctor appts.

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answers from Tampa on

Perhaps you should say something but it's all in the tact. Mention to the school how incredibly pleased you are with the learning experience from your son's teacher and when she is out, how much he misses her. Explain you know she is pregnant and you wonder what the substitute policy is for your school. Will the substitute teacher be able to come close to the level of learning provided by the teacher? Mention how awesome he feels when his homework is checked (even to the sub) and sometimes that gets overlooked. Also provide help. Ask if there is anyway you can contribute to the class, help out in any way especially when the teacher is not there... Even if you are working, there is always something. Regardless of being able to help, a considerate and supportive approach always gets you ahead.
Let us know what happens.



answers from Boca Raton on

Most school districts give a total of 10 sick/personal days. If you do not use them they can be banked for future use like pregnancy illness, early retirement etc. I think the teacher has a commitment to her health first so that she can work to her best ability with her students. I am not sure what resolution you are hoping for in this situation. Do you want her penalized for using her days? Do you want her to not be allowed to take the days? Do you want to go back in time and have your son assigned to a different teacher? I always ask myself when I get all worked over something, what realistically would satisfy me in that situation. If there is no realistic solution, I just have to let it go.



answers from Tampa on

Florida teachers get ten days of sick leave per year. They can use a couple of those days as personal days if they want to after notifying their administrators of the need for personal time. The sick leave is cumulative, so if the teacher takes two days one year, she will have 18 days available the next year. The incentive not to take the days is the state policy of paying for unused days when a teacher retires. The only time I ever needed a lot of sick days was when I had a hysterectomy (old style), and I missed six weeks.



answers from Miami on

As a working mother, I hope that you can be a bit sensitive to her pregnancy. Teachers can't easily "take a break" or "get some fresh air" if they puke their guts out in early pregnancy!! My mom taught for over 30 years and she was expected to be in a classroom for over 5 hours without using the restroom!

If you want to know the plans for when she is out, you need to talk to the principal. The teacher has NO control for when she is out at all! She does leave lesson plans, but that is all. Most schools have a "pool" sub - this is the substitute they go to first and they may or may not have a pool sub to use for this pregnancy. It is not the substitute's job to check homework. Sorry! That is the teacher's job. All the substitute can do is collect homework and pass along to teacher or tell students to hold onto it until classroom teacher is back.

PS I was a Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale) substitute for 5 years.

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