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Nevada to decide if Washoe, Clark counties can keep hiring emergency substitute teachers

An image of an empty classroom
Alexa Ard
KUNR Public Radio

Later this month, Nevada will consider letting Washoe and Clark counties continue hiring emergency substitute teachers with only a high school diploma due to severe teacher shortages. While Washoe County is finding new ways to recruit substitutes, the district believes the emergency licenses are beneficial.

On a recent weekday, the Washoe County School District says there were over 560 requests for substitutes.

Kate Schum is an HR supervisor for the Washoe County School District, and she says the district falls short on finding roughly 20-25 percent of the subs needed each day. Many support staff hold a teaching license, and they have stepped back into the classrooms to help out.

“Our administration, of course, pops in, so a principal might go in and teach fifth-grade math,” Schum explained.

Along with filling these gaps internally, the district has also had to rely on hiring emergency subs who would not normally qualify to be in the classroom.

One of them is Emily Burton. She’s a UNR student and was thrust much earlier than she thought into her chosen career.

“I started with the emergency sub license when they were really having a shortage of substitutes. Clearly, if they’re just letting someone straight out of high school go in and work with high schoolers, that has to be like kind of a cry for help. The district just seems very short-staffed,” Burton said.

The State Department of Education passed an emergency regulation for these substitutes, but that recently expired. A hearing in regards to emergency substitutes will take place later this month by the Commission on Professional Standards in Education.

Kennedy Vincent is a senior studying at the Reynolds School of Journalism. This story was reported in collaboration with the Reynolds Media Lab.

Kennedy Vincent is a former student reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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