Special Photo Hannah Rinehart and her husband of two years, Mark, a math teacher at South Gwinnett High School are seen here. Doctors believe Hannah contracted a rare infection from bacteria commonly found in dog saliva, which resulted in the amputation of her hands and feet.
SNELLVILLE — Sporting royal blue, supporters of the Rinehart Family plan to assemble at a board of education meeting Thursday night. It’s their way of showing support for a math teacher who is irked by the district’s decision to prohibit his fellow educators from donating sick leave to him during a family crisis.
Mark Rinehart’s wife, Hannah, was recently stricken with a bacterial infection that resulted in the quadruple amputation of her limbs.
Fellow teachers at South Gwinnett High School offered to help by donating their sick and vacation time to the Rineharts.
According to District Spokesperson Sloan Roach, however, doing so would be a possible breach of policy and unfair to others employed by GCPS.
“While we understand this is a catastrophic situation for this employee, this is not a simple change,” Roach said. “As a school district we have on average 550 people on leave at any given time. Currently, we have 131 people on leave who are not receiving pay because they have used all of their available sick leave.”
Added Roach: “In looking at this request, decisions must be made that are fair and sustainable for all 22,000 GCPS employees. That said, we will continue to do all we can do to work with Mr. Rinehart during this difficult time.”
Rinehart said his “personal stance” is that “these are friends of mine willing to donate their time directly to me, and I understand there are others in difficult positions, but as a husband I want to be able to help my wife get back on her feet.”
He said he’s working to support the family with one salary, “which is what I need to maintain.” He said that deductibles, insurance rates and other medical expenses continue to amass.
Hannah fell ill in late June after contracting a rare bacterial infection from dog saliva. By late July, the tissue in her hands and feet had deteriorated to the point that her extremities had to be amputated to save her life.
A patient care technician in DeKalb County, Hannah, 32, had successfully battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma for years, and had advocated for cancer research at Relay For Life events.
Rinehart said there are more than 30 who said they plan to show up in support of the family at 6 p.m. during Thursday’s board of education meeting. Their choice of clothing color—royal blue—is a nod to Hannah’s favorite hue.
Visit Hannah’s website at either www.hannahrinehart.com or www.hannahrinehart.org.