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Bill to allow support staff to substitute teach for Michigan school districts

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Bill to allow support staff to substitute teach for Michigan school districts

Bill to allow support staff to substitute teach for Michigan school districts

Bill to allow support staff and bus drivers to substitute teach

LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - School districts throughout Michigan are dealing with the constant struggle of staff shortages.

Now secretaries, bus drivers and cafeteria workers could be leading classrooms soon to help combat the shortages if Gov. Gretchen Whitmer decides to sign a bill introduced by lawmakers earlier this week.

However, there is mixed reaction throughout the state about the solution.

One Mid-Michigan school says they are on board with the idea of support staff teaching classes while the Michigan Education Association says this temporary solution could create more issues.

"Our support professionals, which we represent thousands across the state, are excellent at what they do. But they're not trained teachers," said MEA spokesman David Crim. "We don't ask a teacher to drive a 45-foot school bus and we shouldn't ask bus drivers to teach long division to fourth-graders. That's not what they were trained to do."

State Rep. Brad Paquette, who sponsored the bill, said it would help alleviate a pandemic-related staffing strain that school districts are experiencing. The legislation would lift the current policy where support staff could teach as long as they graduated high school or have an equivalent certificate.

"There’s a desperate need to alleviate the burden in our classroom. The main goal of this bill allows for folks that are employed by the district already to not have to have the 60 college credit requirement to substitute teach," said Paquette.   

Lapeer Community School Superintendent Matt Wandrie said he doesn't know any school district that would say no to increase support during these trying times.

"Consistency is as important as simply filling the position, because kids identify relationally with all of our support staff,” said Wandrie. "Having those adult faces on a consistent daily bases to reassure them we are competent at their job is a big part of the defense against all of these things."

Paquette said he is hopeful that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will sign this bill into effect within the week, as school districts desperately need immediate staffing help.