Subs Sub Rosa in Clark County, Nevada

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The Clark County School District, Nevada?s largest, started the school year not having filled about 4 percent of its teaching positions and was forced to hire nearly 700 long-term substitutes. As is the case for most subs, they?re unlikely to be qualified for the jobs that they are filling. Generally parents don't respond all that well to the news, if they're ever told.

Under the highly qualified teacher rules of the No Child Left Behind Act, however, school districts are required to notify parents of long-term substitutes if their children attend a school that receives federal anti-poverty money. A Clark County school board member last month objected to limiting notification in that way, arguing that any parents who don't know about a sub are less likely to monitor their child?s progress. The board agreed to revisit the policy limiting notification to Title I schools.

Clark County is unusual in that its proportion of Title I schools appears to have dropped rather substantially between the 2001-02 school year and this year, even though the proportion of students in poverty did not drop overall during those years. It's largely the district's call how Title 1 money will be distributed among schools, but absent a dramatic redistribution of poor children among schools, the incongruent numbers certainly raise some questions.

According to figures from the National Center for Education Statistics, almost 38 percent of the schools in the district were designated Title I in 2001. The district disputes that number and says it was in error. This year, according to district figures, the Title I rate is down to about a quarter of all schools.