No pay for some teachers, few substitutes among problems at Pacific schools, union says
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The union representing about 2,000 Department of Defense Education Activity Pacific teachers has appealed to DODEA headquarters for help fixing what it called a “broken system,” saying some teachers have gone unpaid or without base ID cards, critical technology doesn’t work and a lack of substitutes is hampering education of the students.
The Federal Education Association, which represents about 7,000 educators worldwide, said in a statement that dozens of teachers serving military and DOD dependents in the Pacific have not been paid for the current school year, which began Aug. 31. They include transfers from the States, Europe and within the Pacific.
Many new teachers also have been unable to obtain base identification cards. Some teachers are experiencing both issues.
“They have difficulty just coming on base to get to their job site,” the union wrote in a statement obtained by Stars and Stripes. “These teachers are maxing out credit cards, and aside from accruing interest are having a hard time paying their bills because they have no income despite the fact that they are working.”
DODEA Pacific spokesman Charly Hoff acknowledged the issues and said they affect only a small number of staff.
“We are aware of pay issues for some employees here in the Pacific,” Hoff told Stars and Stripes. “We fully understand the urgency of the matter and are actively working to resolve these remaining cases as quickly as possible.”
Out of about 3,600 DODEA Pacific employees, only 10 are still experiencing pay and ID card issues, Hoff said. Ricks said he believed “dozens” are still waiting for relief.
Some teachers also haven’t been paid for coaching or teaching extracurricular activities from the past school year, though payments were supposed to have been made in June, Ricks said.
Forty-seven out of 1,300 educators are affected, Hoff said.
“All 47 have all been submitted for payment by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and should be resolved very soon,” Hoff said. The substitute teacher shortage has plagued DOD schools for years, Ricks said, adding that the problem has been exacerbated this year by substitutes being inexplicably dropped from the enrollment system. The process for re-entry can take months. Teachers are being pulled out of their classrooms to fill in, Ricks said.
Computer and system problems have also persisted. Programs in attendance, grading and mandatory training are unreliable. Technology for new initiatives are “dysfunctional or completely inaccessible,” the union statement said.
Hoff attributed the problems to increased network security requirements and a major internal reorganization of information technology services.
“This has been a longstanding issue that has culminated in one of the roughest starts for DODDS that we have ever witnessed,” the union statement said.