Without assistance from trade associations that dig deep into legislation that impacts school districts, North Spencer County School Corp.Superintendent Dan Scherry says he wouldn’t have known about a potential penalty contained in the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.

Scherry said the law states an individual could be held responsible for fines incurred for an employee working full-time that isn’t offered health insurance. To give individual employees relief from that provision of the law, the North Spencer school board on Monday discussed and approved a Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Hold Harmless Resolution.

That resolution, which Scherry said was developed by the Indiana School Board Association, basically absolves administrators or other individuals from personal liability for those fines and makes the school corporation responsible.

The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. already offers health insurance to all of its full-time employees and some other groups who may not work full-time, said Marsha Jackson, chief communications officer. However, she said the district still plans to ask the school board to adopt a similar resolution at a meeting in the future so no one can be sued individually. As of last year, Jackson said the district had 2,594 full-time employees.

Scherry is happy a resolution exists, and that organizations including the teacher, principal, superintendent or school board associations research laws because “we’re all too busy doing our own little things here in our own corporations,” he said.

“I’m grateful that the school board association brought it to someone’s attention and said, ‘Hey you guys better do something here to cover yourselves,’” Scherry said. “For us, it could be a $300,000 or $400,000 fine, so you’re talking about changing lives there.”

“It’s just a mess,” he said.

If an employee is working more than 30 hours a week and not covered by health insurance, Scherry explained they could make a complaint with the insurance exchange through the government, then the government could impose a fine saying the business or school district didn’t follow the law. Without this resolution, Scherry said the fine could haunt individual people, but after it is passed by school boards the school corporation would be responsible.

North Spencer County School Corp. attorney Arthur Nordhoff wrote the resolution for the district with guidance from the Indiana School Board Association attorneys who interpreted the language and provided a template, Scherry said. As a result of this resolution, the superintendent, principal or school board members are “held harmless” to those costs, Scherry explained. His school corporation has around 275 noncertified and certified employees.

According to Scherry, each school board has to vote and approve the resolution to be covered under it, which he said goes into effect immediately after it is approved. The Indiana School Board Association conducts meetings in which staff provides summaries of new legislation and how that will affect school corporations, Scherry said.

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