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Letter: Homework For Greenwich Residents

Writer claims biased treatment against substitute teachers in Greenwich Public Schools.


Our public schools have a homework assignment for the residents of Greenwich. It calls for an immediate investigation of The Greenwich Board of Education policies and practices concerning its treatment of substitute teachers. Unlike regular teachers that are represented by the teachers' union (CEA), substitutes have no recourse to refute allegations. They are presumed guilty and summarily removed from the Subfinder system and denied future work. According to administrative officials, substitutes are not recognized as Town employees despite that their paychecks are issued by the Town of Greenwich payroll department. Subs are categorized as "at will" workers. As such they have no rights -- including the right to appeal slanderous and/or false accusations. They are often not afforded the respect their role merits by regular teachers and/or school officials. The most flagrant abusive practices occur when they accept special education assignments. Unlike regular teaching assignments that include a lesson plan to follow, special ed assignments do not. In fact, special ed subs frequently receive what appear to be spur-of-the-moment, makeshift instructions that are often inaccurate and/or incomplete. This sets up the sub for "failure to follow instructions" and other false accusations that result in he/she being removed from the Subfinder System for future work. 

Both regular teaching assignments and special education assignments specify the name of the teacher requesting sub coverage. Despite this, when subs report for special ed work they find themselves being misdirected and/or being assigned servile/non-teaching tasks such as shredding papers, or instructed to go from classroom to classroom to ask if the teacher needs help. The experience is chaotic and exasperating. And while this is happening (and unbeknown to the sub) derogatory reports are being made to the principals and Board of Ed alleging poor or unsatisfactory performance. Subs are effectively powerless and subject to any false accusations that virtually anyone above them decides to allege. 

This entrenched corruption is ripe for investigation. The hierarchy occupies an insular, inscrutable, impenetrable, and ostensibly infallible domain. Perhaps "mystery" substitute teachers could be used to reveal the unscrupulous and defamatory abuse of subs. Unless it is experienced and documented by an objective third-party, the system will continue to plague dedicated, conscientious subs. Subs should not be treated as subservient pawns and given inaccurate instructions that set them up for failure. Subs, like regular teachers, are subject to err. They are not infallible. They are also not scapegoats to be used to conceal the ineptitude of special ed sycophants and the corrupt administration that preserves and perpetuates their abusive practices. 

There are many subs that are more highly educated than the regular teachers they are subbing for yet they are treated like non-entities and everyone's pawn to overlord. The situation is despicable and merits the outrage of victimized subs and town residents alike. Let your voices be heard. Recognize that the sycophants that swim in the school to stay in the school are insecure cowards. 

Advocate substitute rights. They are long overdue.

Harry Dill,
Norwalk
Substitute Teacher May 06, 2014 at 05:12 PM
I am seeking to contact subs in other regions of Fairfield County to gather pertinent information. My story is the tip of the iceberg and will be the catalyst for much larger (statewide) news stories and beyond. Consider the material I submitted to you as seminal. It is merely a starting point of a snowball of news waiting to be disseminated. Subs are often treated as expendables by their superiors and not accorded the respect their role merits. Favoritism is rampant. Teachers can “elevate” subs to permanent status. Permanent subs are accorded the respect that all subs should receive. Subs are subjugated by the hierarchy and can be sued as scapegoats to blame for the ineptitude of their superiors. When a sub complains, he/she will be conveniently labeled as having poor ability to fit into the pattern of the school. False allegations can be made by virtually anyone holding “superior” rank in the system. Ultimately, the sub may be requested to meet with an HR department manager where he/she must listen to a litany of allegations. The sub is no longer a sub. He/she is now a (by default) defendant and assumed guilty before being proven innocent - contrary to our system of justice. The sub is not offered the right to appeal because the system does not provide this right. Only full-time, regular teachers are granted this right by their union representation. Subs are not represented by the (CEA), the teachers’ unions in Connecticut. They have no rights as “at will” workers. They are not even considered Town employees. They, in effect, occupy a very vulnerable and untenable position that merits legislative redress. If you are a sub that is now experiencing on-the-job difficulties or have been deprived of job calls by being denied access to the Subfinder system please relate your experience to this publication and others. Substitute Teacher Rights will not be subverted by acquiescence to the injustice that systemic corruption allows. The system is corrupted by cronyism and the collusion it precipitates. You may also wish to contact me directly at dilligent8910@gmail.com

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