Retired teachers benched from coaching because of Michigan law are seeking an adjustment

Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 11:18 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - There’s an effort to change a Michigan law benching some retired teachers from coaching. The law was meant to keep public school employees from taking advantage of the system after retirement, but it hurts school athletic programs.

Bill McCullen, Dewitt’s Girl’s Varsity basketball coach who has 500 wins under his belt, just retired in June. He says now he’s in limbo, not knowing if he will be able to coach for his 29th season. Under Public Act 184 of 2022, Retired school employees must wait at least nine months before being hired by the school again.

“I really like the kids I’m coaching right now, and I’m just hoping this can get rectified so I can continue doing that,” says Coach McCullen.

Michigan High School Athletics Associate Executive Director Mark Uyl says it has created a challenge for high school athletics.

“What is your biggest challenge? And the answer was always money. You now ask that question to school leaders: what’s the biggest issue you have right now in your school? The answer is always people,” said Uyl.

The law was created to prevent public school employees from “double dipping,” meaning retiring from the job and then getting rehired while still collecting pension benefits.

Mark Uyl says that’s not the case for most people affected by the law, “These are not people who are trying to double dip. These are not folks that retired and are ready to start collecting the pension that they’ve earned over their 30 years of teaching or being an administrator and then trying to turn around and to be making all types of money in their pocket.”

For Coach McCullen, he has a tough decision ahead if the law isn’t changed.

“I guess if it comes down to it and I coach for free for a year—it has to be done. I love coaching,” says McCullen.

Uyl says many educators don’t want the stress of a 40-hour work week but still want to do what they love—coaching.

An adjustment to the law passed the Senate and the House and is waiting for Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s signature. The adjustment would change the waiting period from 9 months to 6 months and allow recent retirees to work during those six months and collect their pensions as long as they make less than $15,000.

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