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Legislature passes bill to temporarily allow school districts to hire support staff as substitute teachers

Children in an elementary school class wearing masks enter the classroom with desks spaced apart as per coronavirus guidelines in Monterey Park, Calif.
Children in an elementary school class wearing masks enter the classroom with desks spaced apart as per coronavirus guidelines in Monterey Park, Calif.

The Michigan Legislature passed a bill yesterday that would temporarily allow a school district to hire its own support staff as substitute teachers.

Secretaries, bus drivers, paraprofessionals and cafeteria workers would be eligible as long as they've completed high school.

Right now, substitute teachers must have an associate degree or 60 hours of college credits.

Republican Representative Brad Paquette is the bill's sponsor.

He says it's necessary to widen the pool of eligible candidates to address the strain on school systems as COVID exacerbates a long-standing substitute teacher shortage.

“The gate keeper, the school secretary and the principal, they're not going to bring back any sort of substitute teacher that isn't good for kids.”

The change would last only through the end of this school year.

Critics say the plan will take school support staff away from their own essential duties.

The bill is on its way to Governor Gretchen Whitmer's desk.