School Professor Who Missed Work for 20 Years Out of 20-Year Career Finally Fired

An Italian professor who was recently fired for around 20 years of absence out of 24 years of service at schools near Venice has vowed to contest her recent firing by the Ministry of Education.

51-year-old Cinzia Paolina De Lio, a secondary school teacher who specializes in history and philosophy, became famous in her home country of Italy for managing to skip work for a total of 20 years out of the last 24 years of service at a number of schools around Venice. De Lio was originally sacked in 2017, after an inspection found her to be “unprepared” and “inattentive” in class, but she appealed the decision, and a judge reinstated her the following year. She continued to provide all sorts of excuses to miss work until Italy’s Supreme Court of Cassation decided that her original termination had been justified, especially since she had been absent from the classroom for most of her two-and-a-half decades as a school professor.

Photo: Ivan Aleksic/Unsplash

The Italian Ministry of Education argued that Cinzia Paolina De Lio was completely absent from her workplace during her first decade as a professor, and justified her continued absence in the next 14 years with a variety of documents, from maternity and breastfeeding leaves to permissions to assist disabled family members. In total, she filed over 100 requests for justified absence.

Italian newspaper La Republica claims that during the last 24 years, De Lio filed 67 certificates of sick leave, 16 requests for time off for personal reasons, 7 periods of paid parental leave, 24 requests to assist family members with various disabilities, 5 requests for participation in various training courses, two leaves of absence for work-related accidents, as well as maternity, breastfeeding leaves and several requests for leave to attend to the health of her children.

In 2015, during one of the few periods that the history and philosophy professor did attend classes in Chioggia, near Venice, students complained of her lack of preparedness, as well as of her “random and improvised” way of scoring. Some of the parents also complained that she was inattentive, preferring to spend time on her phone, and some of the students stopped attending her classes.

An inspection confirmed all of the above, deeming her disorganized and describing her teaching methods as ‘lacking a logical thread’. The Ministry of Education dismissed De Lio, but she appealed the decision and managed to get herself reinstated. However, in light of the overwhelming evidence against her, the Supreme Court recently upheld the decision to terminate her contract, arguing that it was the teacher’s responsibility to guarantee students’ right to study.

Contacted by La Republica for comment, Cinzia Paolina De Lio vowed to prove her innocence, but at another time, as “right now I’m at the beach.” However, she claimed to be in possession of documents that confirm she was not absent for two decades, a statement contested by one of her old students.

“She never had continuity: she came for a few days and then took long periods of sick leave,” Francesca B., now a 22-year-old university student, told La Republica. “We changed several substitute teachers or, sometimes, they made us leave school early.”