Parents, students and teachers have concerns
over part time substitutes

“The subs are most likely operating without Lesson Plans,” said Witt

Former substitute teacher D. Janice Witt speaks out in regards to KCK public schools educational issues and confirms there are problems between students, substitutes and the KCK school district that need to be addressed.


In the last two issues of Kansas City Hispanic News, we have reported some of the issues that students and parents are having with substitutes teachers in the Kansas City, Kansas USD 500 school district. During the last two weeks parents have made comments through Facebook that they want to see flexibility in how teachers teach in the classroom.

What brought this story to our attention was an online petition that had been started by Daniel Rabadan asking for signatures to support his statement about J.C. Harmon high school lack of qualified teaching staff. He wants to present the petition and discuss the issues of how the school district can provide funding for qualified teachers at a Board of Education meeting.

The petition states, “J.C. Harmon high school is currently understaffed. We have long term subs teaching classes that they’re not certified to teach, and there are new teachers/long term subs who don’t know how to use the grade book. If these people don’t know how to use something important as the grade book, then what does that say? If it were your grades these teachers were messing with, you’d be just as concerned.”

As of two days ago, 1900 people have signed the online petition. Signing the petition, Andy Walleck said, “I am one of dozens and dozens of former teachers at Harmon who left because of the current administration. I am sure the District/Administration will blame the problems on everything but themselves.”

A student posted on Facebook, “While our teacher is on maternity leave, we’ve had a different sub every day for my Trigonometry class. We’ve literally been teaching ourselves the lessons. We are expected to still pass with no teacher even being in our class.”

Another student wrote, “We literally do nothing in class. They (substitute teachers) don’t know what they are doing!” Another stated, “I have a class and the teacher doesn’t know how to use the gradebook or take attendance. We have another teacher that does that.”

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education stated in a study, “students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds feel isolated, misunderstood or treated as “other” leading to lower graduation rates.”

A parent commented through Facebook that she wants to see flexibility in how teachers teach in the classroom. And goes on to said, “Teachers are a breed all of their own. They want to teach and see these kids grow and show interest and participation in learning. If they are restricted there are jobs out there that pay way more than they make in the district.”

After Hispanic News part 2 story ran, D. Janice Witt shared on her Facebook page, “Bravo for these students, I substitute (sub) in the district to help out and between the absolute dreadful behavior issues and the lack of administrative support...the student who is trying to learn has a horrifying experience, there is no time for learning-the “good kids” are trying to survive. As is the sub who is trying to help out. The subs are most likely operating without Lesson plans and are having to fight to get the basic pay that they were promised. Most times there are NO Lesson Plans, which leaves the sub simply trying to hold the classroom behaviors to an appropriate standard until the teacher returns. OR until they get done sending students with bad behaviors out, or calling for assistance after threats, profanity, going LIVE on their phone, having to battle their way through the NO ONES benefit, there is no respect for the subs or the teachers in general and the day simply rolls by. There is no control or consequences… everything is in chaos, just like KCK in general. Students are passed through and our community continues the slump into darkness (except Summer of course, good for those who have that opportunity). The hallways and students are a BUZZ with students skipping class and there are no consequences for them. They act as if they own the school and they get away with it. The subs are NOT the problem. The District 500 atmosphere IS. It is like escape from New York in there. These kids are speaking up for themselves and I CANNOT BE PROUDER!!!!!! They are correct, they are NOT being educated...that is very sad and elections are November 5th...our politicians are playing politics with the education of your children, either stand up, speak up or take your kids out...otherwise, they are simply following the pipeline to prison and pregnancy model.

I am saying this after having spoken with the Kansas State Board of Education, who informed me last week when I called to find out what we can do as a community. These were the VERY SPECIFIC WORDS THAT WERE SAID. “We have NO JURISDICTION over KCK schools. You have a school board and you need to start with the highest member that you can reach and advocate. Now when it comes to SPED we have a little more control, but that too is limited. Your concerns are extremely valid. However, elections are getting ready to happen and that is how you are going to have to change the concerns that you have.” If you want your kid educated...It is YOUR JOB to make that happen. There are people who are trying to help but ultimately...this falls on you. There are other options. If you want your child to have the best chance possible. KCK Public schools District 500, may NOT be your best option. I believe it can get better...but it is NOT...ABSOLUTELY NOT a conducive environment for a positive educational experience. If your kids are managing and doing good...I am glad for you and this is not directed to anyone with a positive experience. But the truth for the lesser experience must also be is tough out there. Long story short, I wouldn’t dare tell you who to vote for, but “We The People” have got to take control of our community and that means vetting these candidates and the more groups that we can have doing it, the more likely we will end up with a balanced group seeking to help everyone.”

Hispanic News reached out to KCK Public School District, they said in a statement, “We are fully aware of the concern at JC Harmon High School by students, parents, and even faculty. The Kansas City, Kansas School District is committed to the excellence of all of our students. We want everyone to understand we are working hard to fill the 5 open positions still needing full time teachers. With that said, our students education is our main focus...always has been and always will be,” said Keli Tuschman, Chief of Human Resources.

Contributing to this article reporter Joe Arce.