Florence One Schools becomes first S.C. school district to offer paid parental leave

NAACP voicing disapproval for Florence One School leader’s proposal to enforce ‘zero-tolerance’...
NAACP voicing disapproval for Florence One School leader’s proposal to enforce ‘zero-tolerance’ policy for students(WMBF News Oasis)
Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 8:07 AM EDT
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FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) – Florence One Schools took a historic step to help out its employees.

Full-time employees in the school district now have paid parental leave. The new leave policy includes biological, foster and adoptive parents.

It comes after a unanimous vote during the board of trustees meeting in July.

Superintendent Richard O’Malley first introduced the policy in June, stating that not having paid parental leave is barbaric.

“I think one of the things we’ve been striving to do.,” O’Malley said. “As you see, it’s hard to keep teachers and recruit teachers, so we have really made a conscience effort for over the last four years to improve the quality of life benefits for our teachers.”

Under the new policy, full-time employees who give birth are entitled to six weeks of paid parental leave after the child is born. The leave would be paid at 100% of the employee’s base pay.

O’Malley hopes that this not only helps with recruiting but also retaining good employees.

“We talk a lot about things that our district is doing to attract and retain not only teachers but employees all across the district,” O’Malley said. “I think this goes a long way in showing that we care about our employees and their families. We want our employees to be able to be parents and not have to worry about how they will pay their bills.”

Any employee who does not give birth but is a co-parent is also eligible for two weeks of paid leave.

Employees who adopt or foster a child under the age of 18 also qualify for parental leave.

“I don’t find this to be very progressive in 2022,” O’Malley said. “I think that this is something that we needed to do. The governor signed a bill to provide paid maternity leave to state employees for six weeks and then two weeks for paid paternal leave and they, somehow, excluded teachers from being a state employee. I don’t think that sends the right message for what we’re trying to do in our state. In Florence 1 Schools, we value families.”

O’Malley also said that he has kids of his own and he knows the feeling of having to raise a family while working.

“As a father of three, I know what it’s like when you have a working spouse then they have to raise the children and all that goes along with it,” O’Malley said. ‘It’s just sort of that piece of mind to know your job is still here, you’re still going to be paid.”

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