February 13, 2020
Since a California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) audit of the City College of San Francisco in 2012 called into question the membership of thousands of K–14 administrators, ACCCA has been actively engaged with CalSTRS on issues affecting the retirement of its members. So when a CalSTRS Employer Information Circular (Circular) was released late last month affecting leaves of absence, ACCCA’s advocate quickly engaged with CalSTRS and other stakeholders.
The Circular sought to clarify and provide further guidance for employers regarding what does, and does not, meet the definition of “leave of absence” in the Teachers’ Retirement Law. Currently, there are numerous types of paid leaves of absence—leave explicitly authorized by the Education Code, like pregnancy leave, and leave that falls generally under the local board’s authority, such as paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a workplace investigation. The common understanding is that both types of leave do not affect a CalSTRS member’s creditable service and, therefore, their retirement.
The Circular caused significant concern by stating that leaves that are not explicitly authorized in the Education Code do not count towards a CalSTRS member’s creditable service. Causing alarm on both sides of such leaves, employee and management groups, including ACCCA’s advocate, swiftly engaged with CalSTRS. Hearing the concerns from the field, CalSTRS has come to the decision to pull the Circular and pursue a retroactive legislative fix this year.
As always, the devil will be in the details of this legislative fix, and ACCCA will be fully engaged to ensure that paid administrative leave remains a tool for administrators and fair for employees, both management and staff alike. We will keep you posted throughout the legislative process on this and other issues affecting ACCCA members.