HOPEDALE (CBS) – A teacher at Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School suffering from ALS has come up short in a bid to collect full retirement benefits.
Phillip LeMarbre, a biology teacher at the school, was diagnosed last fall with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, so he had to take sick leave.
Then it ran out, 103 days shy of the 10-year mark that would give him full retirement and medical benefits.
LeMarbre petitioned for more sick time but in a tied vote, 2 teachers in his favor, 2 school committee members against him, his petition was denied.
Then, the school asked LeMarbre to have an occupational therapist certify all of his responsibilities at school. His wife, Jessica, says the therapist was unwilling to sign the packet because she is certified to evaluate people, not programs. After that, he was terminated for, “failure to comply with requests from the school.”
Jessica says they do have some retirement savings but not enough of what is needed to cope with the degenerative disease.
“Which is fine, except it’s only really worth three years of benefits. So we would get a big chunk of money, but it’s not like getting a retirement fund for the rest of your life,” she told WBZ.
They have been advised that the school is acting within the law.
“I just was shocked that they couldn’t see some compassion or call him and talk to him but there was none of that,” Jessica said.
A representative from the Blackstone Valley Vocational Regional School District responded to WBZ-TV, saying:
“Mr. LeMarbre has been a valued member of the Valley Tech staff for almost 10 years. The District has afforded Mr. LeMarbre with every benefit of the law and District policy. The issue that has been discussed publicly by his family touches on a confidential personnel matter, and as such, we will not be commenting on the issue.”
Superintendent Michael Fitzpatrick told the Worcester Telegram and Gazette it’s “unfortunate that they would communicate that to you in that fashion. It’s a delicate medical issue, and it’s certainly not appropriate for me to air that publicly.”
If you would like to help, a GoFundMe page has been set up for the LeMarbre family.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports