Marion County teachers to give up sick days for teacher fighting cancer

Teachers work to get district policy changed allowing sick-time to be given away

OCALA, Fla. - Teachers at a Marion County elementary school are fighting to get a district policy changed so they can give up their sick-time days to a teacher fighting cancer.

Robby Strausser, 27, a teacher Oakcrest Elementary in Ocala, is fighting pancreatic cancer and has run out of sick days.

Under current rules Marion County Schools employees can only donate sick time to relatives, but Strausser's co-worker Kathy Rushlow started the push to take a look at that policy.

"It just came to me that I would like to give him ten of my sick days," said Rushlow.

 Rushlow says she can't think of anyone she'd want to help more. She calls Strausser a model teacher and one whom his students idolize.

Strausser is undergoing chemotherapy as well as radiation. In the next few weeks he'll have surgery to remove his pancreas and some tissue around it.

"I am receiving 6 months of treatment in 6 weeks so it does take it's toll sometimes," Strausser said. "I get very nauseous."

Strausser, who has a wife, young daughter and another daughter on the way, says even though during treatment he has good days and bad ones, knowing people want to help him inspires him to continue fighting.

"It makes you want to pay it back ten fold. To have that opportunity to do that means I have to beat this thing, and I will beat it," said Strausser.

Ron Crawford, school board chairman, tells Local 6 the earliest the district would be able to amend the sick time policy would be this summer. He calls the cause to donate days to Strausser "noble," and doesn't think the adjustment would face opposition.

Crawford does say it will take time to iron out the details and make sure the teachers unions can agree.

Strausser says even if the rule change doesn't happen soon enough to benefit him, he wants others to have options.

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