MMSD investigating medical excuses - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

MMSD investigating medical excuses


By Lysée Mitri - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MADISON (WKOW) -- The Madison School District is still investigating medical excuses it got from teachers about a month ago when class was canceled for four days.

A new contract with Madison teachers says fraudulent excuses will result in a letter of suspension but won't require suspended teachers to be off from work.      

Early estimates show the district is looking at more than 1,000 medical notes to determine if they are valid.

The district says it won't pay teachers for time missed from school without valid excuses.

WKOW talked to parents and grandparents of Madison students to find out how they feel about the agreements.

"I don't know that parents or teachers would sanction the use of anything fraudulent," Barbara Grates said. "After all, they are the ones setting an example for our children along with the parents and grandparents."

Maria Ticali said teachers shouldn't have been put in the position where they would have had to decide between going to work and demonstrating in the first place.

"They did what they needed to do, and I don't think they should be penalized for it," Ticali said.

The district is investigating medical notes after doctors were caught on camera writing sick notes for protesters at the Capitol.

 "When I saw that happening, I tried to talk to as many people as possible just saying, ‘Be honest,'" said Joshua Ludke, an art teacher at Orchard Ridge Elementary School. "We're here doing the right thing, and we don't need to involve ourselves in fraudulent activity."

A district spokesman says it is looking at how many excuses were written by the same physician and checking to make sure the listed physician is in fact the employee's doctor.

The new teacher contract says fraudulent excuses will result in "suspension with time served." That means teachers won't miss any more days of school, but they will be on probation and could face greater consequences for any future incidents.

WKOW talked to some school teachers who missed days of school to demonstrate at the Capitol. They say they are fully aware of the consequences and have no regrets.

"I would do it again, without pay, in a second because it was necessary and it continues to be necessary," said Chelsea Higgins, 1st grade teacher at Orchard Ridge Elementary. "We did what we had to do for these [students]."

"It was a really confusing time for everybody, and I think most people did what they thought was best," Ludke said.

The district has also announced the make-up schedule for Madison schools.

Beginning Monday, March 21st, extra minutes will be added to class time for elementary, middle and high school.

This is the full schedule the Madison District released:

The make up of the four February days that Madison Schools were closed will be done by adding minutes to already scheduled school days, and not by adding any days.

The additional minutes are different for elementary, middle and high schools.  Other changes to the schedule involve March 29 for elementary schools, professional collaboration early release Wednesdays for middle and high schools, and the last day of school for elementary and high school students.

The changed schedule will take effect on Monday March 21. 

The Madison Metropolitan School District worked with Madison Teachers, Inc. to come up with this amended school day schedule.

Details of the new school schedule by level:


            • School day will be extended by 20 minutes per day.

            • March 29 will be a full day of school including the added 20 minutes. (Was an eearly release day for grade reporting.)

            • June 10 - last day of school - will have 65 minutes added to the day. (Remains a morning release.)


          • Wednesdays will have same dismissal time as the other days; that is, early release for professional collaboration time will not take place.

          • School day will be extended by 12 minutes per day.


            • Wednesdays will have same dismissal time as the other days; that is, early release for professional collaboration time will not take place.

          • School day will be extended by 15 minutes per day at East, Memorial and West, and by 18 minutes at La Follette. These minutes are in addition to the 1-4 minutes already added to make up for the February 2 snow day.

          • June 10 - last day of school - will have minutes added such that the day will be nearly similar in length to a regular day schedule. (Was a mid-morning release.)

School start times will not be affected by these changes.

Madison Schools were closed to students on February 16, 17, 18 and 21 because of significant staff absences. The WI Department of Public Instruction requires schools to have a specific number of days and hours of instruction during the school year. Due to the school closures, the instructional time standards would not be met without the changes.


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