Substitute got the runaround

Dear Editor:

I recently had the opportunity to attend a meeting in support of a young lady who had questions about her status with the Bradford County School District (BCSD) where she had worked as a substitute.

So, here’s the story. The young lady was employed with the BCSD as a substitute teacher in 2017 until the subs were outsourced to an outside company. She subsequently worked in Putnam County without incident and left due to transportation issues. In 2019 she reapplied in Bradford County and was rehired after passing required background screening and fingerprints ($60 cost to potential employee) After two days she was told that she was removed from the sub list and needed to leave. When she inquired as to why, she was asked, “Don’t you know?” She replied, “No, I don’t,” but she was not informed why and what incident precipitated this decision. 

She worked a few other jobs in between but really wanted to go back to being a substitute, so she made an appointment with the superintendent to find out if there was any reason that she would not be able to come back to BCSD as a sub. The superintendent had an emergency on the day of her appointment and was unable to meet with her. His secretary inquired as to the nature of the appointment and recommended that she go to HR and ask them that question. 

The HR personnel reviewed employment history and determined that there was nothing to indicate that she was ineligible for rehire and made an appointment to begin the rehiring process. This time the background check and fingerprints cost was $80.  She worked at the middle school and Southside Elementary School without incident, then was told that there was a mix-up with the person that called out and that she would need to leave.  She would be paid for the full day.  She was then informed that she was removed from the sub list and again not given a reason.

So, she requested a meeting with the superintendent to try to get to the bottom of what this was all about. On Dec. 6, 2021, at 10:30 a.m., that meeting took place in the superintendent’s office. During the meeting the superintendent stated that he was told she was “loud and yelled at the students”. That’s it!

The superintendent verified that there was no documentation in the individual’s personnel file as to the date and time of the alleged incident, who was involved, what principal or assistant principal or teacher or student made the complaint, and if the complaint was ever validated by an internal investigation.

The superintendent verified that no recent complaints during this latest employment period had been made regarding this individual’s performance.

The superintendent verified that a secretary at a school (not his administrative secretary) had spoken with the previous HR director from 2019 who told her what the complaint was as she remembered it.

The superintendent verified that it was his decision alone, based on the 2019 complaint that the individual was loud and yelled at students, not to allow her to remain a substitute teacher in the BCSD.

The superintendent also stated that the district did not need substitutes at this time.

To say the least, the young lady was very disappointed in the outcome of his decision and so was I and made him aware of this at the conclusion of the meeting.

Unless there was some additional information that the superintendent was unwilling or unable to be transparent about, I have trouble with the superintendent’s decision based on the above information, which is why I am writing this.

I suggested that some measures be put in place so that this does not happen to others going forward.  If it’s not documented, it’s not done! Nursing 101.

The BCSD did reimburse the $80 for the background check this time. Maybe that’s cause for hope.

Elaine Slocum