AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14, DELAWARE CODE, ENTITLED "EDUCATION" BY PROVIDING FOR SABBATICAL LEAVE FOR PROFESSIONAL EMPLOYEES OF THE SCHOOL DISTRICTS, THE SPECIAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS, THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF WILMINGTON, AND THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware:
Section 1. Chapter 13, Title 14, Delaware Code is amended by adding a new Section as follows:
§ 1324. Sabbatical leave
Sabbatical leave may be granted to any properly certified professional employee under the following conditions and provisions:
(1) After seven years of service as a fully-certified professional employee defined as a teacher, nurse, supervisor, director, principal, superintendent, coordinator, psychologist and any other professional employee in public education in the State of Delaware, provided that at least five consecutive years of such service shall have been in the employ of the school board from which leave of absence is sought, unless such board in its discretion shall allow a shorter period of time.
(2) For purposes of professional improvement or for the recovery of health after prolonged illness.
(3) The period of leave shall not be shorter than one-half school term nor longer than one full school term.
(4) While on leave the employee shall not be allowed to engage in full-time gainful employment, except by written agreement with the leave-granting board. However, this provision shall not preclude the employee from receiving grants such as scholarships, gifts, fellowships, part-time employment, or other grants of aid as frequently provided by colleges, universities, governmental agencies, corporations, trusts, or other individuals to students or other persons engaged in study or travel for purposes of professional improvement.
(5) The professional employee shall agree in writing to return to service to the leave-granting board for a period of at least one full school year following the completion of his leave.
(6) Request for sabbatical leave shall be presented in writing to said leave-granting board at a regular meeting of such board before April 1, for leave to begin at the opening of the next term, and before November 1, for leave to begin at the opening of the second semester of the term.
(7) At the end of any such period of leave of absence the employee shall present evidence of his professional improvement in such terms as shall have been agreed upon between said employee and said leave-granting board at the time when such leave was granted. Such evidence may consist of college transcripts, degrees earned, or written reports by the recipient of the leave of absence.
(8) Said leave-granting board shall accept the employee into full-time employment upon his return from leave and assign him to the position from which he left or to a similar position. In no case may assignment be made so as to invalidate the employee's certification status or to bring about a demotion in position or salary.
(9) For purposes of salary increments and pension eligibility and computation, a year of leave shall be considered a year of experience in covered employment under the provisions of local or State salary and pension programs, except that not more than two years of leave shall be applied toward salary increments and pension credits to any person. Failure of an employee to return to service of said leave-granting board shall be cause for forfeiture of salary increments and pension credits for the period of the leave.
(10) School boards may set a limit on the number of employees who may be granted leave each year, provided that, in any district having fewer than 20 professional employees, one eligible applicant may be granted leave each year.