Yesterday the Asbury Park Education Association filed a grievance against the district because teachers are getting blamed for an extension for the school year from June 22nd (yesterday) until today, June 23d. The reason for the extension was that Superintendent Sancha Gray (whose last day is tomorrow) cancelled school on June 11th because 87 staff members called in sick and Gray said she wouldn’t be able to find the 45 substitutes needed to hold classes.
She didn’t mention that June 4th, the previous Friday, 86 staff members called in sick, requiring 30 substitutes the district couldn’t get but school wasn’t cancelled. Or that on June 8th 65 staff members called in sick, requiring 27 substitutes, and school wasn’t cancelled.
In fact, all New Jersey districts are struggling with a dearth of substitute teachers. Wayne Public Schools, for instance, doubled the pay for substitutes from $100/day to $200/day because it’s so difficult to find people.
Teachers union President John Napolotani, according to the Asbury Park Press, confirmed Asbury Park schools has a substitute shortage and said the district has coped all year by having other staff fill in or combining classes. “The teachers have been filing in as substitute teachers all year. Why was Friday any different?” he said. Also, union secretary Maureen Casey suggested to Gray that school be held virtually or she close just one school but Gray didn’t respond.
The series of sick-outs have been ascribed to various causes, including protests of the School Board’s appointment of Rashawn Adams as Acting Superintendent (although he called in sick last Friday too), the suspension of popular principal Reginald Mirthil, and general low morale, as revealed in this survey.
The union is asking for a public apology, as well as compensation for the staff members who did come in on June 11th and stayed until buses and parents picked up students.
None of this sobriety affected the party for a retiring staff member at the Central Office. I was told that staff spent two days decorating the third floor. Enjoy the photos!