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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Massive delays on Glenn Highway prompted the Anchorage School District to grant students excused absences last week, but teachers say they weren’t given the same courtesy.

Thousands of drivers sat in traffic March 22 after an 18-wheeler collided with an overpass the day before, causing extensive damage to the bridge and the road below, KTUU-TV reported .

Todd Hess, Chief Human Resource Officer for the Anchorage School District, sent an email to teachers Thursday saying if school employees were unable to attend work that day because of the road closure, they would either have to take a paid personal leave day or not get paid at all.

“We appreciate the efforts of all of our employees and their attempts to get to work,” Hess said in response to complaints. “Unfortunately, for whatever reason, some of our employees were not able to and all we ask is that individuals that did not make it to work follow the appropriate leave procedures as described in the collective bargaining agreement and ASD Policy.”

Cindy Poteet, a Service High School teacher, said she was commuting from Chugiak on Thursday. Poteet said after being stuck in traffic for three hours, she decided to give up and turn around.

“Even by the time I made it in, I would have missed half the day or close to all of the day,” Poteet said.

Todd Klaameyer, Anchorage Education Association president, said the district followed the contract rules, but the union understands the teachers’ complaints.

“There is quite a level of injustice where this is no one’s fault,” Klaameyer said. “To be penalized for having to burn personal leave or in this case where they did not have personal leave to kind of take a day without pay just rubs the wrong way.”


Information from: KTUU-TV,