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North County parents look to join school ranks as substitute teachers

ENCINITAS — To help alleviate a shortage of substitute teachers, a number of North County parents are willing to fill the gaps.

School districts have increased pay and advertised openings to help combat teacher’s on leave or sick leave due to COVID-19. However, for the parents, it is also a way for them to get their children back into school instead of virtual learning.

Ginny Merrifield, executive director of the Parent Association of North County, said parents are willing to help deliver a solution and work in partnership with the districts.

“Parents will do anything to get their kids back in school,” she said. “This was not designed to cause problems.”

Middle and high school students in the San Dieguito Union High School District and Carlsbad and Vista Unified school districts will not return until late January.

The requirements may differ from district to district, according to a review of each district’s application. All, though, require a bachelor’s degree, fingerprints and to pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test or provide SAT or ACT scores in place of the CBEST, according to a spokesperson from the PANC.

Amy Caterina, a former board president of the Del Mar Educational and Canyon Crest foundations, is just one of many obtaining her credentials. While her two kids have graduated from the district, she has spent years involved with various roles of the district but has grown weary of the delays.

However, she has grown weary of what she says is consistent pushback from the union and said she’s unsure of whether there is the “will” to move forward. Caterina said other districts, such as Rancho Santa Fe, have done well with preparations and creating the safest environment possible.

Still, she’s doubtful the district or teachers union will allow students to return this year.

“The district has been beholden to the union for too long,” Caterina said. “Proctors are a very reasonable solution. I know there is a safe way, but there is no will.”

In Carlsbad, Scott Davison has been a vocal critic of CUSD and the teacher’s union for months as reopening plans have been pushed back time and again. While Carlsbad has different requirements for its substitutes, he said the goal is to support teachers who cannot or will not go back into the classroom.

Davison said a possible solution is for parents to also act as proctors for those teachers, saying kids are in need of returning to school.

“The parent association wants to help recommend as many subs as possible for North County,” Davison said. “We don’t want any more excuses.”

In Del Mar, Hannah Miller, who coaches volleyball at Torrey Pines High School, said she is also in the process of submitting her application to the SDUHSD. The process has mostly been pain-free, although there is a delay with her fingerprints.

Miller said as a coach she has already been fingerprinted, but there is a different fingerprinting process for teachers, which is holding up her application. Regardless, she said she hopes to be approved in the next few weeks and wants to help students return to the classroom as safely as possible.

Also, the pay is added bonus as SDUHSD is offering $250 per day, while CUSD recently increased its substitute pay to $160 per day.

1 comment

heatherdugdale January 9, 2021 at 1:10 am

Dear Coast News:
I’m extremely troubled by the continued teacher union bashing from community members such as those mentioned in this piece. I’m curious if it is important to you as reporters to inquire of such union bashers what exactly it is that our San Dieguito Faculty Association members have done that has either academically or emotionally detrimentally impacted our students in the District. Our teachers did not cause the pandemic and our teachers are not the decision-makers as to whether our students return to their campuses. Our teachers are interested in following the laws of California that are meant to protect their health and safety as well as that of their families and our community, and they are also acclaimed and award winning professionals who among them is the 2020 San Diego COUNTY Teacher of the Year. So, I’m confused as to what exactly it is that individuals such as Mrs. Caterina can point to that our Faculty Association has done to hurt our kids. In the December 15th SDUHSD Board meeting agenda and presentation (that President Maureen Muir did NOT allow to be presented) there is actually a slide that contains factual information that on the social emotional side, a vast majority of our students are experiencing an overall life satisfaction in the “high average range”, and on the academic side, our District attrition rates are similar to prior years, our test scores are similar to past years, our “on track to graduate” rates are from 97-99%, our Distance Learning attendance rates are upwards of 93% and the number of students signed up to take AP exams have increased by hundreds of students. There are still, as there always are, individual students who are struggling, but by and large, our students are thriving. So, what evidence is there that our San Dieguito Faculty Association has somehow done a disservice to our kids in this pandemic.
Furthermore, before publishing this story, did anyone research the service record of Amy Caterina on either the Del Mar Schools Education Foundation and/or the Canyon Crest Academy Foundation? She often promotes her service on those entities, but as I understand it, she was forcibly removed from her Board positions on those organizations before her terms were up. I could be incorrect, but the recorded minutes of those organizations and perhaps interviews with those who served with her around the time of her tenures could verify my understanding. And, to the points raised in this article, is it ethical and/or appropriate for community members to personally financially benefit at taxpayer expense from the policies set by School Board Trustees who they help elect? Mrs. Caterina ran for the Area 4 seat “against” Michael Allman, until she dropped out of the race mere days after ballots hit community members’ mailboxes and she quickly and very publicly endorsed Mr. Allman. As one of his first acts as Trustee, Mr. Allman made a motion to increase substitute pay in SDUHSD from the already increased amount of $180 a day to the outrageous and unprecedented sum of $250 per day. And now, you are reporting that several individuals from the Parent Association of North County are applying to be substitutes in our District and thereby taking advantage of that increased sum – which, by the way, doesn’t that help to pull substitutes away from other Districts who might be lawfully providing on campus in-person instruction and thus might desperately need those substitutes? This Parent Association was created by among others, Ginny Merrifield and Allison Stratton who are also the administrators of Mr. Allman’s personally created and moderated, censored, one-sided reopening Facebook page that he created during his campaign. The same campaign that Mrs. Caterina supported. In addition to this, it appears that Trustees Allman, Mossy and Muir, in blatant disregard for state and county health orders, have created a circumstance where there is an artificially increased need for substitutes on our campuses because they have pushed to prematurely welcome general education students back to campus. Matter of fact, has your paper researched how many substitutes were on our campuses during the first week back from break and whether they had anything to do on those campuses, or whether instead they spent the day playing solitaire or sitting around while receiving taxpayer funded compensation. I’m also curious to know if any of the other individuals mentioned in your article (and who are applying to be substitutes in our or other Districts) have recently been exposed to Covid and had to quarantine as a result. As we now have a situation where it is harder for teachers, staff, students and others to get tested, I fear that an influx of students, substitutes and others on our campuses will lead to increased risk for our community as a whole; a community who just today reported it’s highest number of positive cases since the pandemic began. I look forward to seeing/hearing whether your paper looks further into the information about which I have inquired.

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