A school district voted to nonrenew a teacher’s term contract due to excessive absences and failure to call in when she was going to be absent. According to the record made at the nonrenewal hearing, the teacher was absent more than 30 days during the school year. She was written up on multiple occasions during the school year for her absences and for not reporting absences to her supervisors. She also received a written memo in which her principal asked for documentation as to whether she was under a doctor’s care. The memo stated that “it is expected that you will not miss another instructional day without a doctor’s order.” The teacher missed three additional days after receipt of that memo.

The teacher appealed the nonrenewal of her contract to the commissioner of education. She argued the reason she was absent and failed to call in was because she had a serious health condition. But she did not take advantage of laws that could have protected her, such as the Family Medical Leave Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The commissioner upheld the nonrenewal of the contract. The teacher did not deny that she had been absent. She did not give the district any medical documents that stated she was sick. She did not ask for medical leave or request short- or long-term disability leave. The commissioner noted that if she had been placed on a medical leave of absence, then a long-term substitute could have been brought in to minimize harm to the students from the teacher’s excessive absences.