Should I tell my principal about a recent medical diagnosis?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by applesnap, Aug 24, 2020.

  1. applesnap

    applesnap Rookie

    Joined:
    May 4, 2014
    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    3

    Aug 24, 2020

    I was recently diagnosed with a chronic illness (I don't want to say what it is, in case someone figures out who I am). I may have to take more sub days than usual for appointments. I will also be going on some new medication and I don't know what side effects I may have.

    Do you think I should tell my principal about my diagnosis? If so how much detail should I give?

    Right now, I am the only person who teaches my subject at my school. I love it because then I can do whatever I want. (My school is big on people who teach the same class having the same class structure, same notes, etc. and I find it really restrictive).

    I'm scared that if I tell my principal my diagnosis, he will think I can't do my job, or he will think I'm more likely to take a medical leave, and he will hire someone who can also teach my subject.

    So far I haven't needed accommodations at work, although I guess if my illness gets worse I may need some. I have been in the process of getting this diagnosis since January, and my department head knew something was up (and keeps asking about my heath...) but I don't think my principal knows anything yet. I'm also not too sure what to say the next time my department head asks about my health (he is doing it to be conversational/friendly but I am never sure how to respond).
     
  2.  
  3. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2004
    Messages:
    3,740
    Likes Received:
    305

    Aug 24, 2020

    No. It is no one else’s business. Use sick days as needed and have sub plans. Check your contract to see if you can be asked to provide a doctor’s note for sick leave; in my district, only the Superintendent can do so, and it has never happened. Keep your private live private. Administrators can have a funny way of using information against staff.
    Good luck with your health issues.

    I give this advice based on many years as our union President; members who ignored it often told me they regretted sharing the information with administration.
     
    applesnap, S P, bella84 and 1 other person like this.
  4. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,661
    Likes Received:
    377

    Aug 24, 2020

    If this was the UK then I would advise telling them as it may need your employer to carry out a risk assessment to keep you safe. Perhaps you should check with your doctor as to whether your employment is affected by your condition.
     
    Backroads likes this.
  5. geoteacher

    geoteacher Devotee

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    1,026
    Likes Received:
    237

    Aug 24, 2020

    Only disclose what you need to if you might possibly need accommodation in the workplace. In that case, your contact, after carefully reading your contract and handbook, should first be with HR.
     
  6. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2005
    Messages:
    4,337
    Likes Received:
    783

    Aug 24, 2020

    applesnap,

    Look into signing up for FMLA intermittent leave. Most people don't know this, but people with chronic illnesses can sign up for FMLA leave, and then use it just a few hours or days at a time, whenever illness makes it necessary. There are specific requirements, but it can save your job and give you the time you need when you need treatments or when you are in too much pain to work.
     
  7. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Comrade

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2016
    Messages:
    353
    Likes Received:
    195

    Aug 24, 2020

    As someone with a laundry list of health conditions/disabilities, don't say anything unless you have to. It gets awkward in a split second. You may have to disclose though, depending on the condition, if it's something that could affect the students' safety. Better safe than liable. That's why my school knew I was partially blind. They did not however, know about my scoliosis or hip dysplasia or chronic tendonitis. I may reach a point where I need accommodation for those (or general understanding - some schools are so weird about making teachers pace the room the whole period), but until it's a problem, nobody's going to know anything. It was bad enough they knew about the vision impairment- one admin basically flipped out about it until HR gave her a talking to. Sorry lady, but you don't get to dictate how I get to work in the morning. I'm there, on time, every day- none of your business how I got there.

    If your dept. head asks again, you can always give a vague, social response like, "My doctors and I are trying some new things and I'm optimistic about feeling better." If it really is just casual, social inquiry, that's enough of an answer to satisfy.
     
  8. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Messages:
    5,863
    Likes Received:
    1,361

    Aug 24, 2020

    It also depends on your relationship with your admin. Some, I’d have told. Others, not so much.
     
  9. applesnap

    applesnap Rookie

    Joined:
    May 4, 2014
    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    3

    Aug 25, 2020

    Thanks. I think my contract requires a sick note after 4 consecutive days off or something like that.

    One time when I was a new teacher, another teacher had just returned from maternity leave and was taking sub days every second week. She got pulled into the office and the principal talked to her about it.

    Also, last year, my principal asked staff to try and only take half days for appointments since sub time costs the school money. So I know when I take a sub, it’ll be noticed. I’m scared they’ll think I’m slacking off or booking unnecessary appointments or something.

    It really sucks that doctor’s offices are open the same hours as schools are. Makes scheduling all these appointments really hard.

    I think you are correct that I shouldn’t tell my admin, though I can’t really see them using it against me.
     
  10. applesnap

    applesnap Rookie

    Joined:
    May 4, 2014
    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    3

    Aug 25, 2020

    Thanks! I’m not in the UK though.
     
  11. applesnap

    applesnap Rookie

    Joined:
    May 4, 2014
    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    3

    Aug 25, 2020

    Interesting, thanks for the tip!
     
    Tired Teacher likes this.
  12. applesnap

    applesnap Rookie

    Joined:
    May 4, 2014
    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    3

    Aug 25, 2020

    Thanks for sharing your experience! It’s nothing that would impact student safety. However my coworkers may notice that I’m acting weird because the condition impacts my ability to eat normally, and there’s always food around.

    Thanks for the dept head tip - that’s a perfect way to phrase it!
     
  13. applesnap

    applesnap Rookie

    Joined:
    May 4, 2014
    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    3

    Aug 25, 2020

    True, although If I tell my principal, he might tell the vice principal, and so on. So I probably shouldn’t tell anyone unless I want to risk that...
     
    Tired Teacher likes this.
  14. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,661
    Likes Received:
    377

    Aug 25, 2020

    I know. However doesn't your employer have a duty of care towards you and an obligation to keep you safe?
     
  15. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,924
    Likes Received:
    1,899

    Aug 25, 2020

    I recently shared my own health issue with my principal, who then shared it with HR. I was concerned about needing accommodations due to COVID. I honestly wish I hadn’t shared because it didn’t result in anything positive for me. Of course, there may come a time when it would absolutely have to shared, but I wish I would’ve waited until then. I was trying to be proactive, thinking that was in everyone’s best interest, but it turns out that I was wrong.
     
    vickilyn and Tired Teacher like this.
  16. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    Messages:
    3,611
    Likes Received:
    1,914

    Aug 25, 2020

    I'm not sure if we're talking in the same ballpark, being different countries but... yes?

    Which is where accommodation requests would come in if applesnap or any other teacher felt there was a concern for themselves or others.
     
  17. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2019
    Messages:
    1,413
    Likes Received:
    711

    Aug 25, 2020

    I'd say a big NO too, but it totally depends on your relationship w/ your P. I had a couple of P's who would help and not use it against you, but the last 1 I had would stab you in the back with any admission of illness. HR tends to work to save $$ and listens to the P too.
    I hope you get well soon, Apple! PS I had a P actually tell another teacher something that was medical that should have been kept private. When in doubt and you want your health private, tell no1 other than trusted friends.
     
    stargirl and bella84 like this.
  18. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2013
    Messages:
    4,155
    Likes Received:
    1,758

    Aug 25, 2020

    Trusted friends, even, I’d be careful with. When I have medical information or other information I don’t want my principal to know, I don’t tell anyone I work with. Not because I don’t trust them, but because I don’t want to put anyone in a position where they have to lie or cover up for me. I’d hate to put anyone in an uncomfortable position.
     
    Backroads and bella84 like this.
  19. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2013
    Messages:
    4,155
    Likes Received:
    1,758

    Aug 25, 2020

    I wonder if you could get a note from your doctor stating that you have a medical condition that will require regular office visits without going into details. This could be a positive or a negative as it would make people curious, but it would help keep your privacy while letting your employers know you’re not skipping work for no reason.
     
    a2z likes this.
  20. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2014
    Messages:
    11,215
    Likes Received:
    2,788

    Aug 25, 2020

    Despite assurances to the contrary, admin will side with HR and be concerned with what "your needs" means to the budget, or the amount of "extra work" that your diagnosis will come back to affect the school and the bottom line. Do not share anything more than the least amount of information about your health, because once one person knows that there are concerns that mean you may get what appears to be preferential treatment, there will be no secrets or confidences kept to the degree that will protect your privacy, and once your privacy has been breached, everyone will feel that they are entitled to have an opinion and the right to talk about your situation, with or without your own input or permission. I like Otterpop's suggestion that you provide the vaguest doctor's note possible that will appease HR and your principal just to keep from having to overshare in a weak moment. A talk to your doctor(s) about what your life will truly be like going forward is extremely important. As long as the two of you are on the same page, the doctor will be better equipped to share just the right amount of information to appease the school without over sharing more than is necessary to keep you in your school's good graces. As @RainStorm has mentioned, if it becomes apparent to your doctor and you that there is going to be a need to be recognized as having a special need to be able to teach, and if that accommodation will be met by language of the law, which protects your job and job security, I would contact a lawyer for more information before being "transparent". Shield yourself, your records, and your needs until such time as you must address the issues.

    Let me wish you the best of luck and good health. :hugs:
     
  21. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2019
    Messages:
    1,413
    Likes Received:
    711

    Aug 26, 2020

    YEP! and if you had wanted it to be kept private, it may not be, That is exactly what happened to me 1x.
     
  22. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2014
    Messages:
    11,215
    Likes Received:
    2,788

    Aug 26, 2020

    So sorry about that. We are supposed to be assured of reasonable privacy about our health, but once people (or even a single person) is privy to the information, discretion seems to go out the window. Having seen and experienced this kind of situation, I have become very guarded, because you can't unring the bell once the information is out there. I hope OP will consider that it is easier to keep the secret than to try to recapture the secret once shared.
     
    Tired Teacher likes this.
  23. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2013
    Messages:
    4,155
    Likes Received:
    1,758

    Aug 27, 2020

    There are a lot of privacy expectations that leaders either don’t know about or don’t care about. Sometimes I’m surprised at the information that is shared about other staff members.
     
    Tired Teacher likes this.
  24. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    6,181
    Likes Received:
    2,109

    Aug 27, 2020

    You would be wise to be prepared with a vague doctor's note. Honestly, I never saw a doctor's note list the condition, just any restrictions or accommodations needed. Missing a lot of days of work for appointments will not look good, especially if there is no reason. I absolutely wouldn't share a diagnosis with anyone, that is not their business. There is always a risk, even with a medical note, that there will be ramifications, but it isn't as if no questions will be asked if you keep calling in for sub days for appointments, especially if the number of days goes beyond your allotted amount.
     
    Tired Teacher likes this.
  25. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,924
    Likes Received:
    1,899

    Aug 27, 2020

    I specifically asked my doctor for a note that was on letterhead that did not give away the reason for me seeking care and that did not describe the reason for my treatment. Both requests were ignored by the doctor.

    My school district has said that, in order to approve any ADA accommodations, they need to be given permission for two-way communication with the doctor so that they can converse regarding what accommodations are "reasonable" both from an employment and health perspective.

    It is much, much more difficult to keep health concerns private from an employer than I ever would have imagined - at least in my case.
     
  26. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2013
    Messages:
    4,155
    Likes Received:
    1,758

    Aug 27, 2020

    Can you tell HR what the health concern is but tell them you want to keep it private? Maybe they could be the ones that tell your principal what the accommodations are without revealing the reasons. When I applied for FMLA for pregnancy, the HR director said my principal would get a notice saying I was going to be out for X number of weeks but that there wouldn’t be a reason attached to it. I told my principal anyway, but HR legally I think was not allowed to share the reason.
     
  27. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,924
    Likes Received:
    1,899

    Aug 27, 2020

    Well, in my case, it has all already been done. The cat is out of the bag. But, the OP could possibly try that. In my case, it would not have mattered much anyway, for two reasons. One, I'm totally comfortable sharing my issue with my principal, probably more so than anyone else (other than two close colleagues). Two, our district is relatively small, so the our HR dept head is also the curriculum & instruction dept head, among other duties. There's really no way to keep it private from supervisory admin when those same admin also head up HR. I bet you're right, though, that HR legally has to keep it confidential from sharing with others outside of their dept.
     
  28. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2019
    Messages:
    1,413
    Likes Received:
    711

    Aug 27, 2020

    Bella, and any1 else, There is an alternative to the ADA route. It is too intrusive if you are a private person. Plus, it is pretty tricky. I have seen it from a friend.
    I do not want to put her alternative out b/c it could screw my friend up, but if you can inbox me or start a conversation, I can tell you a way that could help you bypass ADA. Districts for some reason are trying to push this route off on people 1st.
    Summerwillcome. :) Whoops! I just saw. I thought it was you who cared about privacy. I read it wrong.
     
  29. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,924
    Likes Received:
    1,899

    Aug 28, 2020

    Thanks. I am curious... I don't see any way to start a private conversation with you though.
     
  30. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2019
    Messages:
    1,413
    Likes Received:
    711

    Aug 28, 2020

    Maybe my account has a glitch. IDK... I can't start 1 either.
    I found out today that it was NOT such a great trick as she thought. lol
    It was a good try, but no prize. I thought she'd outsmarted the system.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. miss-m,
  2. waterfall
Total: 344 (members: 3, guests: 307, robots: 34)
test