Romulus teacher shortage angers parents

ROMULUS, Mich. – School districts across the country are finding it difficult to find qualified teachers.

A labor dispute in Romulus has resulted in dozens of teachers quitting. They've been without a contract since November 2017.

Representatives from the union said some students have only known substitute teachers for years. The Romulus Community School District disagrees.

"It's 2018, and the one thing I thought my child would be afforded was a proper education," said Alisa James. 

James' daughter, Avery, is a fourth-grader at Wick Elementary School.

"One day, her teacher was Ms. Meyers, the next someone else," James said. "I'm just like, 'Hey, Avery, what are you doing in class?' and she's like, 'We have a substitute every day, so we're not doing much of anything.'"

The union said some high school students have not had a certified English or math teacher for years. 

"The fact that we have so many classes without certified teachers, from elementary to high school level, is unacceptable," said union president Sarah Carter.

"We're doing everything possible to get teachers in those classrooms for those students," said superintendent Marjie McAnally.

When asked if she understood why parents were outraged, McAnally said, "Well, no."

McAnally said four teachers quit shortly before school started. The union said over the past few years, 90 of the district's 150 teachers have left due to the toxic work environment. 

"We have, district-wide, 15 open teaching positions," Carter said.

McAnally argues there are seven openings. The Romulus Community School District's website lists 17 vacant positions.

"We need to settle this contract because, as a new teacher, why would you want to go to a new district that has this turmoil?" Carter asked.

"How am I expecting her to get into college and compete with these students if she doesn't have proper teachers?" James asked.

Teachers want a livable wage, and the district says they don't have the money -- all after a millage was successfully passed recently.

The district says four new teachers will start soon.

Teachers are encouraging parents to attend the next school board meeting on Sept. 24. 

About the Authors:

Priya joined WDIV-Local 4 in 2013 as a reporter and fill-in anchor. Education: B.A. in Communications/Post Grad in Advanced Journalism