TUCSON, Ariz. — About 200 retired teacher substitutes in Tucson Unified can return to work. Board members voted 4-1 tonight to approve a temporary contract through the rest of the school year.
The board approved a temporary sub-source contract for retired teacher substitutes under the company ESI, Education Services, Inc. The district said ESI is no longer including retired teacher subs under the initial contract with TUSD; and that ultimately left about 200 subs out of work yesterday and today, and unsure of their future.
During the call to the audience at the board meeting, community members advocated for the retired teacher substitutes; expressing their disappointment in the district.
"This action has caused hurt, insult, disruption and financial hardship. So if ESI wants to back out of the agreement, or if TUSD wants to back out of some aspect of the agreement, why aren't you just evoking the 90-day clause? Why is it necessary to look out subs from employment?" said one woman.
Superintendent Dr. Gabriel Trujillo said he recommended approving the short contract to put everyone back to work immediately. It also gives the administration time to transition any retired subs that want to work for the district. But the two-day disruption, before the vote, already left its mark on the community.
"If you knew that this was going to happen, not only why did you look out the sub, but why did you not think about the kids?" said another woman.
"My son was supposed to be getting one of these subs today and they had to combine classes and had a really, really rough day," said Leila Counts, a TUSD Board Member
Despite the goal to get the subs employed again, board members Counts, Mark Stegeman, and Rachael Sedgwick all expressed concerns about continuing to work with ESI.
"I just hope that the company is not brought forward again as an option. I'd like to point out that there are lots and lots of other sub-sourcing companies," said Sedgwick.
Stegeman and Counts ultimately voted to approve for the time being, while Sedgwick was the only declining vote.
"I owe an apology personally to any and all subs affected October 1st and October 2nd. Though we have 200 retired subs, not all subs are actively working or accepting jobs, but if there was even one that was affected, that's one too many. And I accept full responsibility for not being appropriately active enough with ESI or assertive enough with them to address this issue on the front end," said Trujillo.
Trujillo said the vote of approval gives the 200 subs their jobs back immediately, while the districts HR director said getting all 200 subs through the on-boarding process can take 90 to 120 days.
The board will discuss in a later meeting, whether the district will continue using ESI as a contractor for its retired teacher subs in the future.