Substitute Teacher Shortage Reaches Crisis Level in Pennsylvania Schools: How You Can Help

By: Laurie A. McCarthy, Esquire

[email protected]

If you turn on the news or have school-aged children, you have probably heard about the substitute teacher shortage. Just like other workforce shortages and supply chain issues, substitute teacher shortages are being felt across the country.

Each state is handling the shortage differently; some are calling on parents to cover classes, and other have reached out to police officers and the National Guard. Last month, Governor Wolf signed into law House Bill 412, which increases the pool of individuals who meet the criteria to be substitute teachers. 

Under this new Pennsylvania law, the following individuals now qualify to work as substitute teachers in Pennsylvania:

  • Retired teachers are now eligible to fill teacher vacancies on an emergency or short-term basis.
  • Schools also can use eligible college students and recent education program graduates to serve as substitute teachers;
  • Educators with active Pennsylvania certificates, as well as those with comparable out-of-state certificates, can serve as day-to-day substitutes for 20 days, or longer under certain circumstances;
  • Teachers with inactive certificates may substitute for 180 days per school year, instead of 90 days; and
  • Individuals who are age 25 or older, have at least 60 college credits or 3 years of experience as a paraprofessional, and complete training on classroom management, may serve as “classroom monitors” by delivering preplanned assignments for a teacher.

The expanded substitute-teacher eligibility will serve as a pilot program for the remainder of this school year and the next school year. In addition to the reduced qualifications, most school districts have increased pay for substitute teachers. These changes allow schools the short-term flexibility to keep kids in school; so, if you meet the qualifications, and are interested, reach out to your local school district for more information.

The Law Firm of DiOrio & Sereni, LLP is a full-service law firm in Media, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. We strive to help people, businesses and institutions throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania solve legal problems – and even prevent legal problems before they occur.  To learn more about the full range of our specific practice areas, please visit or contact Laurie A. McCarthy, Esquire at 610-565-5700 or at [email protected].


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