AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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AFT Resolutions


WHEREAS, the growing shortage of substitute teachers and a growing shortage of teachers in general has forced administrators, faced with classrooms without teachers, to sometimes assign paraprofessionals to short- and long-term substitute teaching assignments in their regular classrooms or in other classrooms throughout the school; and

WHEREAS, a recent PSRP online survey revealed that nearly 60 percent of paraprofessionals have been asked to serve as a substitute for a full day in their regular assignment when a teacher is absent. This quite often happens because the paraprofessional is viewed as the logical choice to assign as the substitute because of his or her familiarity with the students and the classwork in progress; and

WHEREAS, there are currently various federal, state and local regulations that regulate this practice, including the recent reauthorization of Title I of the Leave No Child Behind Act of 2001, which outlines specific responsibilities that paraprofessionals can be assigned and essentially prohibits the use of Title I paraprofessionals as substitutes; and

WHEREAS, despite the fact that many paraprofessionals do meet the qualifications to serve as substitute teachers, that doesn't mean that their important work supporting instruction in classrooms should be viewed as so unimportant and expendable that they can be pulled from their regular duties; and

WHEREAS, it is the union's responsibility to ensure that our members are not asked to take on work for which they may not be prepared and/or not compensated:

RESOLVED, that the AFT encourage its affiliates to collaborate with the local education agency to establish strict guidelines and protocols to prevent the misassignment of paraprofessionals that include:

  • establishing procedures for assigning paraprofessionals that are consistent with federal, state and local regulations ¾ especially paraprofessionals in Title I-funded positions;
  • establishing specific steps that must be taken before assigning a paraprofessional as a substitute;
  • establishing a protocol that ensures that paraprofessionals who are assigned as substitutes after exhausting all available alternatives have met the district or state qualification to work as a substitute;
  • ensuring that qualified paraprofessionals who are assigned as substitutes receive appropriate compensation and that time limits are set to minimize abuse of the system; and
  • ensuring that any qualified paraprofessionals who do accept these assignments do so voluntarily and have the "right of refusal" of any assignment as a substitute; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT work with its affiliates, with federal, state and local legislators and with institutions of higher learning to find solutions to the teacher shortage that include the expansion of paraprofessional-to-teacher programs.