Harford County Teacher Fighting Cancer Campaigns to Share Colleagues’ Sick Days

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Dominic Selvi, 34, has taught music at Forest Lakes Elementary School for eight years now. Selvi, a popular personality at the school, was going about his busy, young, musical life as usual last December when he was diagnosed with stage IV rectal cancer. Selvi — an Abington resident and Fallston High School grad — is also the sole breadwinner for his wife and two children, one of whom has autism that requires a good deal of medical intervention. So, this devastating health news — as we know, advanced cancer requires drastic, debilitating, time-consuming treatment — hit home on every possible level.

That’s why the inventive Selvi this week petitioned the members of the Harford County Board of Education to allow his fellow educators to donate their accrued sick days so that Selvi can gather enough time off for treatment and rest. That’s also why his fellow faculty members are beyond eager to help, like Superintendent Robert Tomback who signed away a significant chunk of time to the cause:

Twelve full days of sick leave he’d not yet put to use (or bed rest).

“Since my diagnosis I have been met with sacrifice, charity and kindness,” Selvi said, according to a “Neighborhoods” entry by David Anderson in The Baltimore Sun. “So many people who have put themselves out by trying to give my family a leg up.”

Selvi’s Facebook page tells us that the young teacher has been able to take time for chemo and radiation via the Family and Medical Leave Act, but he will require several weeks’ sick leave when he undergoes bowel-removal surgery in March.

His petition for time is fairly high-concept. Here’s why: Selvi’s asking the board to allow staffers, not only at his institution, but like-minded faculty at Southampton Middle School as well, where his wife formerly taught, to donate days.

To date nearly every single teacher at Forest Lakes has signed a petition indicating a commitment to donating sick time, according to Christine Medvetz, a media specialist at Forest Lakes. Some, without sick days to gift, volunteered to dock a day’s pay.

“Any cancer is devastating but Stage IV cancer is incurable and life changing… knowing that he will have enough sick days to provide for his wife and his two children is one way we can help him recover and stay strong enough to fight this disease,” Medvetz said.

According to The Sun, “Board members did not take action on Selvi’s request during [this] Monday’s meeting, but they commended his colleagues for supporting him.”

(Many companies and academic institutions of late endorse sick-leave sharing, while of course many more refrain. Public school instructors can join the Sick Leave Bank, administered by the Harford County Education Association for those “who may encounter catastrophic or incapacitating illnesses…” Teachers may join the program only between May 1-31. Family members of teachers are ineligible. Selvi said he had not joined as he was focused on stocking his own sick days to attend his son’s doctor’s appointments…)

“I can tell from what I have heard that you are an inspiration to your students, just as I know that the music teacher of my children was an inspiration,” Board Member Robert Frisch told Selvi at the hearing.

Wishing Selvi the best outcome and the longest paid sick leave possible! We will report back soon with updates.

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