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Lawmaker Wants Calif. Parents to Have Paid Time Off for School Activities

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A California lawmaker has proposed a bill that would require employers to give parents three paid days off a year to attend school-related activities.

"Studies show that when a parent is involved in their child's education, this has a profound effect on that child's education," said Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles). "Grades go up. Truancy goes down. It's almost impossible to quantify the value of a parent going down to the school site and being a parent helper."

Under California law, parents, grandparents, and legal guardians can already take 40 hours of unpaid time off for school-related activities or emergencies.

Gatto's proposal would make 24 of those hours paid. Employers with 25 employees or less would be exempt. The Education Commission of the States reports this would make California the first state to mandate that employers provide workers paid time off to attend school-related activities. However, several states have school involvement leave policies, including North Carolina, Nevada and Rhode Island, which mandate that parents be allowed to take leave to attend school functions.

Gatto says more and more public schools are putting pressure on parents to participate in school activities, and that puts some parents at a disadvantage.

"One feels a great deal of sympathy toward the parents who want to participate but who can't because they can't afford to take the time off unpaid," said Gatto. "No parent should have to choose between putting food on the table and participating in their child's education."

Gatto says he's heard nothing but positive feedback on his bill from parents, but he expects a big fight over it in the California State Assembly.

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