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On Friday, we had Amy Redding on the podcast.

Redding is running for school board on a shoestring budget against Kevin Beiser, who’s raised $140,000. It’s not looking good for her.

Beiser has refused to debate her. And he told us he did not want to come on our podcast because he did not want to miss school. He’s a teacher at Castle Park Middle School in Sweetwater Unified School District.

This made me feel bad — like I was trying to suggest someone abandon kids. I asked him what time he got out of school, and he did not respond.

I don’t feel bad any longer. As Mario Koran explains in this new profile of Beiser, the teacher turned politician has been actually quite willing to miss school.

This is remarkable:

Between 2009 and 2014, Beiser’s missed, on average, four weeks of school each year, according to district records.

That more than meets the bar for chronic absence set by the National Council on Teacher Quality.

Out of the country’s 40 largest metropolitan districts, teachers, on average, missed 11 days of school during the 2012-2013 school year. Only 16 percent of all teachers were considered chronically absent, which NCTQ defines as missing 18 or more school days a year.

And the financial costs can add up. The Sweetwater Union High School District confirmed it has paid out $12,000 to substitute teachers covering Beiser’s classes.

That amount doesn’t include the days he missed for training, which is often covered by grants, said SUHSD spokesman Manny Rubio. Nor does it take into account the couple dozen days Beiser left school early.

The U-T was on this story recently too, noting Beiser left school one to two hours early 14 days last year.

Leaving school early seems almost more disruptive, in a way, than just not showing up at all. Other teachers have to help his students finish the day.

Koran shared some more data with me. In the 2012-2013 school year, for instance, Beiser missed 28 days and left school early nine times.

Teachers in Sweetwater have 184 duty days. So that means Beiser worked 147 full days in the 2012-2013 school year for Sweetwater.

I’m not implying Beiser is lazy. Obviously he’s working his tail off. He’s a trustee for San Diego Unified and he’s got big political ambitions.

He likely won’t have trouble this race. But in the future, when he’s running for office and he points to his teaching career, this absenteeism is going to haunt him.

Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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