Absence makes the district wonder

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Erick Huth, a Spanish high school teacher in the Nashville-Davidson School District, has been out of class a total of 42 1/2 days (so far) this school year, performing tasks on behalf of the local teachers' union. Due to his high number of leave requests and complaints about his absences, district officials took a second look at Huth's excessive absences only to find that they were perfectly legit according to the contract that they had signed. In the teachers' contract, members of the Metro Nashville Education Association are collectively granted 186 days of paid leave for union-related activities for the 2005-2006 school year from which all union members can draw.

According to The Tennessean, "Huth leads the pack with 42 1/2 days, but six other veteran educators who play key roles in the union have been granted between 10 and 17 1/2 days of paid leave this school year." The concern isn't just the amount of time Huth has been absent; according to the district, it is because his absences are sporadic and consequently more disruptive to student learning. When questioned about the absences, MNEA President Jamye Merrit, who is on leave to serve her term, responded, "We didn't know we were being policed."