Though recent years have seen a loosening of requirements for those who want to work as substitute teachers, there has also been a corresponding tightening of criminal background checks to ensure those working with children are law-abiding citizens.
Abraham passed Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation background checks when he was hired in 2012, officials told the Journal-News. He went through another background check in 2017, they said.
The easiest path to substitute work is to be a current or former full-time teacher. Undergraduate degrees are often preferred but not always required.
Training is involved. But increasingly the substitute employment pool is populated by professionals or veterans from non-educational industries. Those with specialized skills in mathematics, science, computer science may find themselves in much demand.
Local school districts control the hiring process, said Isaacs.
“Each school district has control over all aspects of the substitutes they use from the pool of candidates that we create. The school districts decide which substitutes work in their schools and also how much they pay,” he said.
The local educational service centers confirm with the sub has up-to-date licenses, background checks and training for things like blood borne pathogens, safety procedures, and their requirements as mandatory reporters of child abuse, Isaacs said.
“Warren and Butler County ESC’s have worked together to manage substitute teachers for the past six years. We handle all the employment/personnel issues in recruiting and hiring the subs, we provide an online platform that allows school districts to post openings and substitutes to choose their assignments, and we handle the payroll as well,” he said.
“There are several benefits, as the school districts are usually competing for the same group of substitutes, and this allows those who want to work as substitutes to have a ‘one stop’ approach rather than going to each individual school district,” which number 20 school districts in the two counties.
School district officials in the two counties say without these subs, area schools couldn’t function.
If the charges against Abraham are true, said veteran substitute teacher Joshua Clifford, “it tarnishes what we do and it hurts everybody involved.”
“Most of the people who do substitute teaching want to help kids and you get a chance to work with some awesome teachers,” said Clifford, who is also a pastor of a Franklin church.
Linda Corbett is a 60-year-old, former hairdresser who enjoys supplementing her income by subbing.
For Corbett the freedom of controlling her work schedule is a big plus of the job.
“The pros include you get to choose what days you work, at which school districts and at which school buildings,” said Corbett.
“I love being with kids. I’ve sub for kindergarten through 12th grade classes and I don’t have a favorite,” she said. “I really enjoy walking into a classroom and not really knowing what is coming at me that day.”