Should a teacher who has a baby just before summer break be able to take maternity leave when the next school year starts in August? The Illinois Supreme Court is set to decide.

Suburban Wood Dale teacher Margaret Dynak gave birth to her daughter in June 2016, one day before summer break. When school resumed that fall, she planned to use her paid time off. The school district refused. The district said maternity leave cannot be taken months after the child was born.

The Illinois School Code mandates 30 days of paid maternity leave. At issue is whether or not the days have to be taken off right after the birth of a child or if it can be taken after summer break, still the next subsequent school day, according to court documents. Should the Illinois Supreme Court side with the teacher, she would not only be given the pay she claims she lost, but it could affect the way teachers across Illinois are able to use their maternity leave.

“She did not lose that right based on the happenstance of when her child was born,” said attorney Ryan Thoma, who represents the teacher and the Illinois Education Association.

Thoma added that the spouse should be able to take time off in tandem with the mother.

Attorney Adam Dauskas, representing the school district, told the court that allowing for deferred paid time off would open up absurd situations such as a teacher taking sick time months after they recovered.

“So, a father could come into work a year later and say, ‘I’m going to stay home with my child for 30 workdays,’” he said.

Dauskas also said that a decision in favor of Dynak would allow a parent to take one paid day off per week for 30 work weeks.

Courts leading up to the Illinois Supreme Court had previously sided with the district.

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois government and statewide issues for The Center Square. He has produced radio shows for stations in Bloomington/Normal and Peoria, and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

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