Questions remain about substitute teachers in Hillsborough

Published February 8 2018
Updated February 8 2018

On Dec. 20, Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins said he had his lawyer send a demand letter to Kelly Educational Staffing, a contracting firm that sends thousands of substitute teachers into the schools.

His purpose was twofold: Get clarification on the process Kelly used to deal with allegations of misconduct by the substitute teachers; and find out, specifically, what became of dozens of Kelly subs who were the subject of principal complaints between 2015 and 2017.

You have 10 days to respond, the letter said.

It's February and so far: Kelly says it is preparing a response.

The Tampa Bay Times, in a story that was published on Jan. 14, reviewed hundreds of complaints from principals about substitutes who were sleeping in class, berating students and committing various sorts of bizarre behavior. The Times also found many cases of teachers who had lost their jobs with the school district over certification lapses and suspected misconduct , but returned to the classroom through the Kelly contracting arrangement.

The district said it has been improving the process steadily since 2014, when it began outsourcing the jobs that pay slightly more than minimum wage. Kelly responded with a letter to the editor complaining that the Times focused on the problems without giving the company credit for a far greater number of successful placements.

At Tuesday's School Board meeting, acting personnel chief Marie Whelan assured the board that all long-term substitutes have at least a bachelors degree.

Eakins, in the meantime, has followed up with Kelly because he still wants answers to the questions he posed in December.

We are awaiting the response as well.