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Know Your Contract: Substituting / Class Coverage

By: Cindy “Stop Subbing” Sjoquist, BTU Field Rep

No one, in either chapter of the Baltimore Teachers Union, can be required to find their own substitutes, or substitute for a colleague EXCEPT in an emergency. “Emergency” is clearly defined and cannot be interpreted as a planned absence (i.e. a teacher taking a PL Day). Paraeducators should be especially cautious about substituting as 1. It signals that paraprofessionals are not a vital member of your assigned classroom, (which you are), and 2. It is illegal for Title I funded paraeducators to substitute. 


7.7 Class Coverage 

Teachers, including but not limited to classroom teachers, special area teachers, and clinicians, shall not be required to take another teacher’s classes except in an emergency. Examples of an emergency are the following: a sudden illness of a teacher during the school day, or awaiting the arrival of an obtained substitute, and other situations mutually accepted by the teacher and the principal.

This means that you cannot be required to take another teacher’s class, unless you’re waiting for a sub or it’s too late in the day to find one. You can also mutually agree to take the class but it cannot be imposed. 

7.11 Substitutes 

  1. No teacher shall be required to obtain the services of a substitute in the event of his absence. In the case of a scheduled absence, however, the teacher may assist in securing a substitute. 

Applied practically, this means, while you can be asked to use the Frontline system, it is not your responsibility to ensure that a sub is confirmed. 

Library Media Specialist

18.2.I. Except in an emergency, no School Library Information Media Specialists shall be required to teach courses other than those in their area of responsibility or to substitute for absent teachers. Allegations of abuse or misuse of this provision shall be promptly addressed by the CEO or his/her designee. 

Speech Language Pathologists

18.7.C. The Speech-Language Pathologists shall not be assigned homeroom duties nor will they act as substitutes in the absence of classroom teachers.


XII.A.5. Use of Substitute Teachers

A Paraprofessional will be asked to serve as a per diem substitute only by mutual agreement of the Principal and the employee provided that the Principal makes reasonable attempt to exhaust the substitute list. An employee will receive payment as a per diem substitute in accordance with the per diem substitute schedule. A Title I assigned Paraprofessional or one-on-one IEP Aide shall not be allowed to serve as a substitute, pursuant to federal regulation. In emergency situations when a Paraprofessional must substitute, the Paraprofessional shall be paid pursuant to the per diem substitute schedule. No Paraprofessional shall be given compensatory time for substituting. 

  1. Paraprofessional employees shall not assume the responsibilities for classroom management, instruction and the writing of lesson plans unless they are serving in a substitute teacher capacity as agreed to in this document. Paraprofessionals shall continue to maintain student logs and other similar records. Except in emergency situations and cases of Special Education annual IEP screenings, Paraprofessionals shall not be asked to conduct class for longer than one (l) hour.

Paraeducators must agree to substitute; they cannot be required to. Paraeducators who agree to substitute should be paid sub pay in addition to their daily earnings. Because of funding, Title I Paraeducators are not allowed to substitute, even if they agree when asked.

Secretaries, Office Assistants, and School Related Personnel 

Article XX-I A. Secretaries and Office Assistants shall not be required to obtain the services of a substitute in the event of absence. 

If your school administrators order you to serve as a substitute in violation of the contract, contact your building rep and/or field rep immediately!