Parents raise concern over Paterson teacher shortage, superintendent says classrooms will be staffed

PATERSON, N.J. (WABC) -- Parents are raising concerns over a possible teacher shortage in the Paterson school system, but the superintendent says classrooms will be staffed.

Paterson parent Carrie Gonzalez is worried about her 12-year-old daughter, Jaelynn.

Entering a new middle school is enough of a headache without concerns about the lack of teachers for in-person learning throughout the district.

"This is nothing new, this is ongoing," Gonzalez said. "My daughter last year didn't have a science teacher the entire school year."
Paterson Superintendent Eileen Shafer insists the classrooms will be staffed, saying the pandemic caused an unexpected number of staff members to not return to their job.

"We're ready to open," Shafer said."People are resigning and leaving to be closer to home because of the pandemic and also because of more money and going to another district and getting hired."

According to the Paterson School District, out of 2,100 teachers across 54 schools, there are 75 vacancies.

More than two dozen teachers submitted notice but will stay on for the required 60 days after the school year starts.

Raquel Soto is a mother of and advocate for a special needs student, her son Marc will be a senior at Rosa Parks High School.

"For them to go in September 8 with a shortage of teachers is unacceptable," Soto said. "If they knew they had this shortage, why did they not fix the issue at hand? Why did they wait so long?"

A Paterson teacher's aide who spoke to Eyewitness News anonymously said: "We're not paid as much as teachers in other districts."

The aide complained that "We have 25 to 30 students in the class, teachers cannot be successful with that number it becomes frustrating."

An assistant superintendent said the district recruited aggressively with online job fairs and college partnerships.

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