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SLC School District reports substitute-teacher shortage; parents react

SALT LAKE CITY — The principal of East High School in Salt Lake City is asking the community for help as schools deal with a shortage of substitute teachers.

Searching for substitute teachers

In an email sent Monday to parents and students, Principal Greg Maughan acknowledged the entire school district is grappling with a shortage of substitutes. He also included a link where individuals can apply for substitute positions.

“You may know someone in our community who would like an opportunity to work with teenagers while also having flexibility with scheduling workdays. If you or someone you know would like to help, please click on the link,” he wrote.

What has most parents concerned is how the substitute shortage is impacting the daily schedule of students. This issue was briefly touched on in the email.

“When we have substitute requests that are unable to be filled and do not have enough coverage, students meet in the auditorium for asynchronous learning. We realize this is not ideal; as a school system, we are doing our best to find a remedy,” wrote Maughan.

Parental concern

Some parents, like Melissa Hardy, said the situation is beyond “not ideal.”

On Monday, she personally removed her daughter from a 90-minute class in the auditorium after hearing about the conditions. Her daughter claims at least five different classes were moved to the auditorium and only one teacher was present to oversee all the students. 

“She had a 10 problem assignment that took about 10-minutes to do,” Hardy told KSL NewsRadio. “They were just being babysat in the auditorium.”

Hardy says her daughter considered the class time to be a waste, and she agrees.

“This sends the wrong message to students and to families,” Hardy said.

The substitute-teacher shortage hasn’t impacted just the Salt Lake City School District, as other districts across the state report similar issues going back to last year.

In August, officials with Educational Solutions Services reported an “urgent need” for more substitutes in the Alpine, Ogden, Tooele and Washington school districts.