This short guide was created to help explain the personal leave rules in easy-to-understand language. Please send your colleagues to this page, or to the downloadable flyer here.

What are the rules re: personal leave?

According to the NC Public Schools Benefits and Employment Policy handbook, an educator who requests personal leave at least five days in advance shall be automatically granted the request subject to the availability of a substitute teacher. You are not required to provide a reason for the request if it’s made at least five days in advance. That means school employees should submit their requests for personal days to attend the May 16 Advocacy Day before Friday May 11.


  1. the first day the teacher is required to report for the school year.
  2. on a required teacher workday.
  3. on days scheduled for State testing.
  4. on the day before or the day after a holiday or scheduled vacation day.

*Teachers using personal leave receive full salary less the required substitute deduction ($50), except for teachers using personal leave on teacher workdays. If no substitute is hired for a teacher, the substitute fee will be refunded.

What might your supervisor/co-worker say?

There are some common refrains you may hear from your principal, SSO, superintendent, or other teachers, that may discourage you or your coworkers from taking a personal day on May 16. It’s good to be prepared for these by knowing your rights, and knowing how to respond in order to combat misinformation and keep spirits high. Here are a couple of common replies you may hear from your supervisor or coworkers when you tell them you’re taking a personal day on May 16:

“It’s great you feel so passionate about your students, but they’ll be losing valuable instruction time if you leave for the day.”

Response: Our students lose valuable instruction time when their textbooks are out of date, their class sizes are too big, and the resources they need aren’t provided in school. Furthermore, we keep losing good, veteran teachers due to low pay. One day is nothing in comparison to what we stand to gain by fighting for our schools.

“This advocacy day is divisive, and everyone at our school is doing the best they can. It’s better for us to keep our nose to the grindstone and just focus on our school.”

Response: The difficulties in our school are the same difficulties schools are facing around the state. May 16 is an opportunity for our educators to show unity with educators around our district and state by fighting for the funding and resources our educators and students need to succeed.

“I’m worried that my supervisors won’t approve my personal day.”

Response: You are not required to give a reason for taking a personal day if you submit it more than 5 days in advance, and will be approved automatically as long as there is sub availability. If there’s any retaliation, our supervisors are overstepping their bounds, and we can file a grievance.

“Can I just take a sick day?”

Response: No. Sick leave can only be used when a personal illness/injury prevents an employee from performing his or her usual duties, (2) for medical appointments, (3) to care for an ill immediate family member, (4) for a death in the immediate family, or (5) for an adoption. A superintendent can require a doctor’s note or other proof of the need for sick leave.