Hawaii School Board Scrutinizes High Teacher Sick Leave, Turnover Rates

Nathan Eagle/Honolulu Civil Beat

The Hawaii Board of Education wanted more than it got Tuesday from school officials.

Board members were concerned after reading startling statistics on high teacher absenteeism and turnover rates in a local newspaper article and on the teachers union website. The paper reported that teachers are out sick an average of 17 days a year, and the union said half of all new hires leave within the five years.

Those are numbers that the board wanted to get to the bottom of and see what could be done to improve the rates. Studies link high teacher absenteeism with low student achievement. And when teachers are out sick, the district has to hire substitutes, as board chairman Don Horner noted.

But the numbers aren't as solid or as simple as they've been portrayed, Hawaii Department of Education officials say.

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