The new school year is underway in the western suburbs but parents say there have been nothing but problems for students attending Proviso Township High Schools thanks to teacher shortages.
Parents told NBC 5 that students in Proviso Township High School District 209 have been dealing with class registration problems and even a shortage of teachers. Parents say that in some cases, students are being left unsupervised in the classrooms.
“I’ve been in the district for over 20 years,” said parent Wendy Hines. “I have had three children graduated from Proviso West, and this leadership is horrible.”
Fellow parent Deborah Scott says her daughter was one of many students who had to sit in the auditorium or cafeteria because she didn’t have a teacher in her classroom.
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A picture shared with NBC 5 captured the problem at Proviso East, as students waited in the school's auditorium in order to meet with counselors and to be assigned to classes.
Another video shared with NBC 5 shows students left unsupervised in a classroom on Tuesday afternoon.
“I don’t have time to keep going up to the school when counselors are not returning my calls,” said Scott. “I’m steadily emailing, I’m steadily calling and I can ever get nobody and that’s ashamed. I shouldn’t have to be on Channel 5 News just to get a point across.”
Parents believe the nationwide shortage of teachers and even bus drivers have led to problems in the district but say they’re not happy with how administrators have been handling the situation and don’t think they have a plan in place.
“I don’t understand how we got to this point,” said parent April Falco. “I don’t understand how there’s zero communications between the school district and the parents.”
While Superintendent James Henderson declined a request for an on-camera interview, he released a statement to NBC 5 saying:
"Proviso Township High Schools District 209—like most districts across the country—is faced with a teacher shortage. We have encountered at least five teacher resignations since the Sept.1 start date of school. We believe these last-minute resignations to be most unprofessional and harmful to our scholars. We’re assertively working with our teacher union to ensure a higher teacher retention rate and to lower the attrition rate. The safety of our scholars is our primary concern. We are ensuring all scholars are in safe learning environments and supervised by an adult."
The superintendent told NBC 5 on the phone that there are 12 vacancies at Proviso West High School, but parents believe that number is much higher.
“They have been giving the feeling that everything is okay and everything is under control and nothing is okay,” said Falco. “It’s not under control.”
“We need leadership the superintendent, the board, you guys need to step up you need to step up,” said Hines. “If not you will be stepping down.”
The superintendent said the district is working with the teachers union to attract and retain teachers and that students are safe and being supervised at school.
NBC 5 reached out to the teachers union for a comment, but have not heard back yet.