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Some Cleveland students still being taught by substitute teachers

4:22 AM, Oct 22, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- It may be hard to believe, but the first quarter of the school year is coming to an end.

And Twyonia Cooper's daughter, Taylor, is still being taught by substitute teachers at John Adams High School.

"She says, 'Mom, we need foreign language [to graduate], but we don't have a Spanish teacher,'" Cooper explains.

Cooper, the head of the Parent-Teacher Organization for John Adams, says 13 teaching positions are still being filled with substitutes.

At Monday night's Cleveland City Council meeting, Ward 2 Councilman Zack Reed expressed his outrage.

"They're sitting in the cafeteria. That's what they [students] told me. They're sitting in the cafeteria because they only have substitute teachers," he declared while addressing fellow councilmembers.

Angry parents, like Cooper, say they've had enough.

John Adams High School is one of 13 so-called "investment schools" -- struggling schools that were identified by the Cleveland Metropolitan School District to receive special attention, with the new funds and focus from the passage of a 15-mill levy last year.

Now, 10 weeks into the school year, Cooper says 20 percent of the teaching positions at John Adams are not permanently filled.

Parents are especially concerned, since students begin taking the Ohio Graduation Test next week. Students are required to pass the test in order to graduate.

"So how do you pass a test? How do you pass a foreign language test when you don't even have a foreign language teacher?" asked Reed.

Reed, along with parents and students plan to demand answers from CMSD CEO, Eric Gordon, and school board members at Tuesday night's board meeting.

Parents like Cooper feel like time is running out for their kids.

"I think that the school is being set up to fail. I really honestly do. And I don't know why," she said.

UPDATE:

CEO Eric Gordon is set to update the board on the district's first significant hiring in 15 years. Below is a statement from the district.

This school year, the District needed 2,784 teachers to staff its classrooms, including 1,864 K-8 Teachers and 920 High School Teachers, Gordon said. "This is the first time in 15 years that CMSD has done any significant hiring, and the process has been further influenced by the resignation and retirement of 51 additional employees since the start of the school year," he said. "The process has been further influenced by our commitment to staffing schools in the most thoughtful and thorough way and by our conscious effort to keep our promise to reduce class sizes." These factors, he said, increased the number of teachers the district needed to hire this year–in total, 253 new teachers.

Since April, CMSD recalled 28 teachers and screened and interviewed 362 candidates for the 253 open teaching positions. Of those screened, 203 applicants were interviewed by building-based hiring teams, and 141 of the applicants were hired and are either completing their required background checks or are already teaching in CMSD classrooms.

• Currently, the district has 84 open teaching positions, representing 3% of the district's teaching workforce. CMSD is actively seeking to fill positions in Special Education, Bi-Lingual Education, and in Secondary English, Math and Science and other key areas.

CMSD is continuing its work to address remaining open positions by: 
• Screening new applicants daily. 
• Providing screened applicants' names to principals on at least a weekly basis 
• Scheduling and widely advertising its job hiring fairs. Next week's hiring fair is at the Barbara-Byrd Bennett Center on Wednesday, October 30.

In the meantime, CMSD has 476 active substitute teachers who have been filling not only the district's open positions, but who also cover teacher absences when they occur.

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