FHSD takes no action on teacher’s leave during board meeting
By: Michael R. Smith
During its Jan. 17 meeting the Francis Howell School District Board of Education had nothing to say about Bryan Spencer, a current district teacher who has not been granted a leave of absence since being sworn in as a state representative (R-District 63) on Jan. 9.
However, his supporters had plenty to say.
About three dozen supporters crowded the board’s chambers, holding large signs for Spencer and speaking during the meeting’s 30-minute section given to resident comments.
“We have not heard a reason why this leave has not been granted,” FHSD patron and St. Charles County Republican Central Committee Member Cheryl Bates told the board. She said that the board’s action could lead to a lawsuit. “I want my tax dollars spent in the classroom, not in the courtroom.”
The board had no comments about the issue during its meeting. Board President Marty Hodits said it was discussed in a closed executive session before the public meeting. Afterwards, he said he could not discuss district personnel issues.
Hodits confirmed that Spencer is still a teacher in the district but is unpaid by Francis Howell. He had no comment on what future action might be taken toward the educator. Spencer’s last teaching day was Jan. 7.
“It’s still the same status as it was a month ago,” Hodits said about the issue. “We have not approved a leave. We are following the legal avenues.”
A granted leave of absence would preserve the teacher’s 22-year position as a district employee while he serves in theMissourilegislature. Leaves are given for medical and other reasons.
Spencer said that he also needs to consider his legal options but stopped short of saying he would bring a lawsuit.
The educator, who attended the board’s meeting, said that to date he has not received a reason from the district for not obtaining a leave of absence. He said a letter he received from Steve Griggs, chief human resources officer, provided little information.
“I did not receive a reason,” Spencer said. “I received a note from Dr. Griggs, saying the board had refused my decision and my request has been denied.”
Asked how long a leave he had requested, Spencer said he asked for “a leave of absence for as long as I serve the people.”
State representatives serve two-year terms but may be elected up to four times, or serve as many as eight years.