Press Release

Court’s decision in Margaret Dynak case will likely impact thousands of education employees annually

WOOD DALE – The Illinois Education Association (IEA) plans to take its fight to protect working parents to the Illinois General Assembly. The announcement comes after the Supreme Court issued a decision today in Margaret Dynak vs. Board of Education Wood Dale School District 7. Margaret Dynak is an IEA member and a teacher at Westview Elementary School. She was denied birth leave when her daughter was born just prior to the end of the 2015-16 school year.

“It’s definitely upsetting, but I know the fight is not over. The IEA is going to keep fighting for me and all other parents in education,” Dynak said. “I don’t want anyone to go through what I had to go through. It’s an impossible decision to make. After the district denied my request, I chose to take unpaid leave to spend time with my new daughter, even though it was an extremely difficult time to go without a paycheck. I felt very strongly that I needed to spend that time with my daughter. It’s irreplaceable.”

“We are disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision, and wish that the Court gave more serious consideration to Margaret’s position,” IEA President Kathi Griffin said. “That said, this isn’t the last stop for our members and their families. This fight is far from over. We plan to bring this important issue to the legislature, so that we can put a stop to efforts by districts to take away the rights of our educators and their families. IEA will advocate for language that confirms what we believe was always in the school code: an affirmative right to take paid leave for the birth of a child regardless of when the child is born.”

In June 2016, Wood Dale District 7 only allowed Dynak to use one and a half days of sick leave for the birth of her child, despite the fact that the School Code entitles her to use up to 30 days for birth, absent medical certification. The school district based its decision solely on when Dynak’s child was born, which happened to be just before the summer break.

“We believe that when the legislature added the right to use paid sick leave for birth to the School Code, it had no intent of treating teachers who welcome a new child into their home differently simply based on the timing of birth,” IEA Associate General Counsel Ryan Thoma said. “Employees do not have control over when their child is born and all educators should receive the same benefits under the law.”

Section 24-6 of the Illinois School Code provides that both male and female teachers may use up to 30 days of accumulated paid sick leave for “birth,” absent any medical need for such leave.

“The School Code impacts thousands of educators all across the state of Illinois. This is not only a women’s rights issue, this is a crucial issue for all parents working at schools within this state, as well as their families,” Griffin said. “No one should be forced to make the painstaking decision Margaret had to, and we believe the legislature will see that.”

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The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.