Some want is­sue placed on bal­lot

Ben­e­fits

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - Con­tin­ued from ‘If your poli­cies en­cour­age in­tol­er­ance, then your teach­ers are go­ing to be in­tol­er­ant. And if your teach­ers are in­tol­er­ant, then the chil­dren are go­ing to suf­fer.’ michael clinkscales,

At a board meet­ing last month, Havins called for the is­sue to be put on the agenda.

Sev­eral other trustees weighed in prior to the vote, to pro­vide their rea­sons for sup­port­ing the ben­e­fits.

“We’ve worked really hard in this district to teach our stu­dents that ev­ery per­son has value and de­serves to be treated with dig­nity,” said Trustee Carol Fletcher, prior to the vote. “It means ev­ery­one. There are no ex­cep­tions to our pol­icy. This is just good busi­ness.”

Prior to the vote, about 40 peo­ple ad­dressed the board, most in fa­vor of keep­ing the in­surance ben­e­fits.

“We feel if you take th­ese ben­e­fits away that we may be dis­crim­i­nat­ing against PISD em­ploy­ees who qual­ify for domestic ben­e­fits,” said Au­gust Plock, pres­i­dent of the Pflugerville Educators As­so­ci­a­tion, a lo­cal af­fil­i­ate of the Texas State Teach­ers As­so­ci­a­tion.

Michael Clinkscales, a gay fa­ther of four district chil­dren, told board mem­bers that re­scind­ing the more ex­pan­sive ben­e­fits pol­icy could cre­ate an at­mos­phere and cul­ture of in­tol­er­ance.

“If your poli­cies en­cour­age in­tol­er­ance, then your teach­ers are go­ing to be in­tol­er­ant,” Clinkscales said. “And if your teach­ers are in­tol­er­ant, then the chil­dren are go­ing to suf­fer. My chil­dren are go­ing to suf­fer. If you want to re­cruit and re­tain the best, you’re go­ing to have

par­ent to be the best. I know Pflugerville can do it. Be the best.”

But oth­ers asked for the board to bring the is­sue be­fore vot­ers.

First Bap­tist Church of Pflugerville pas­tor Steve Wash­burn said his stand against the ben­e­fits was not hate­ful.

“I have de­voted my whole life to lov­ing peo­ple,” Wash­burn said. “I do not hate. That is not my rep­u­ta­tion. This is sim­ply a mat­ter of where the ma­jor­ity lies.” Wash­burn pointed to an on­line sur­vey by a lo­cal publi­ca­tion that showed two-thirds of those who re­sponded were against the district ex­tend­ing the ben­e­fits.

Five em­ploy­ees signed up to en­roll a domestic part­ner dur­ing the Oct. 22 to Nov. 6 en­roll­ment pe­riod.

Those em­ploy­ees were re­quired to sign an af­fi­davit stat­ing they have jointly shared a per­ma­nent res­i­dence for at least one year and had to show proof of at least two of the fol­low­ing: a joint lease, mort­gage or deed; joint own­er­ship of a ve­hi­cle; joint own­er­ship of bank­ing or credit card ac­counts; or proof of power of at­tor­ney or a will at­test­ing to the domestic part­ner as a ben­e­fi­ciary of life in­surance.

The district pays only for em­ployee cov­er­age. Em­ploy­ees pay pre­mi­ums for fam­ily mem­bers, and the same prac­tice will be in place for domestic part­ners.

The district be­gan of­fer­ing the ben­e­fits af­ter rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the em­ployee in­surance ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee came for­ward with the rec­om­men­da­tion, say­ing a hand­ful of em­ploy­ees had asked for the ben­e­fits.

Con­tact Melissa Taboada at 445-3620. Twit­ter: @melis­sa­taboada

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