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Drew Ciecierski, right, his wife Daris and their daughter June in happier times.

McALISTERVILLE – Just before the 2020 pandemic, Daris and Drew Ciecierski added their first child, daughter June, to their family.

Today Daris is fighting for her life and Drew for the time to raise his daughter. The Ciecierskis lost their home in a fire on May 2nd; Drew saved June from the fire, but Daris was badly burned and is now in a coma at the Lehigh Valley Burn Center in Allentown.

Drew’s fellow professor in the Juniata County School District – he teaches at East Juniata High School – wants to help and offer “donate” her sick and personal days to Drew so he can maintain his income and health insurance that covers the whole family.

In certain circumstances, this is a straightforward process. The district and the Juniata County Education Association have included a provision in their collective agreement that allows employees to share their benefits in this way.

But Drew didn’t sign up for it this year. With the new baby and his own dwindling time, he decided not to sign up for the plan – obviously not expecting her life to be turned upside down before the end of the school year.

Ciecierski asked for a waiver in order to sign up and get the days his fellow teachers offer. According to the union, a memorandum of understanding has been submitted to the district in which sick days can be donated. The school district administration has apparently refused to allow this.

“As I understand it, this is a decision that is made solely by Dr. (Gary) Dawson.” the superintendent, said Ciecierski. Ciecierski said he had contacted the administration but received no response.

“You have decided to give me all information about Simon (Cameron, the union president).” he said. “No emails, no calls, nothing.”

On Friday, he was informed that the decision had been taken not to allow the exception. Since then, he has begun the process of filing under the Family Medical Leave Act, which allows him to at least keep his health insurance on.

“I emailed the county office about it and all I got was the standard form that I had to take to my doctor.” he said.

There have been family fundraisers since the fire, and more recently, a Juniata graduate, Allison Henry, created a petition to get the district to change their minds.

“It’s all about seeing a needy family in our community – just wanting to do what’s right for them” She said.

Henry was acquainted with Ciecierski through a youth group when they were both in school and while she said it was her “Out of contact for years” The situation moved her.

“My goal is for the Juniata County School District to reverse their decision and give Drew an opportunity to accept the vacation days that I have donated.” said Henry, who is not a county clerk.

The petition ( had more than 4,300 signatures at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

“I am so humble at the pouring out of support”, Said Ciecierski.

Ciecierski believes that the teachers’ contact allows exceptions in exceptional circumstances.

“I didn’t ask for anything” he said. “This is the benefit of working with the people I do.

“These people are not just employees, these people are my family and friends. It felt like one less thing to worry. “

Ciecierski posted a video on Facebook ( in which he explains his situation from his point of view.

He understands that his time must first be used – “You can burn up every single sick and personal day I have” he said – just asked about the offered time, nothing else.

“Even at its best, this is a long, lonely journey.” he said.

Juniata County’s teachers are typically paid over 12 months, with 10 sick days and three personal days each year. Two of the personal days can carry over to the next year, and sick days can be much longer. The birth of their daughter and the quarantine due to COVID-19 logs earlier this year resulted in nine days of their own.

Dawson did not immediately return a phone message for further information.

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