BROCKTON, MASS. (WHDH) - Some students at Brockton High School have recently been spending class time in their school’s cafeteria as the Brockton Public Schools deal with a shortage of substitute teachers. 

On any given day, school officials said, there are between 17 and 29 teachers absent. Without enough substitutes, students have been left with no place to go, leaving parents frustrated. 

One such parent, Mary Lacivita, said her 16-year-old son is also frustrated after spending hours each school week without a teacher. 

So far this school year, Lacivita said, one of her son’s AP class teachers has been absent for nearly 30% of classes. 

District officials told 7NEWS students without a teacher or a substitute on a given day are asked to go to the cafeteria where Lacivita’s son said there is little to no supervision.

“There’s a fight every day, at some point, whether it’s during lunch or whether it’s the group of students in the cafeteria because their teachers are absent,” Lacivita said.

“There was a teacher who walked in on a student giving oral sex to another student,” she continued.

Lacivita’s son is not the only person with upsetting experiences. Rather, Lacivita said nearly 100 parents have similar stories in a Facebook group she started.

“They’re worried about being able to make up all that time because we’re two months into the school year at this point,” Lacivita said.

She continued, saying parents are worried about whether they will be told at the end of the year that their student will have trouble graduating.

The lack of substitute teachers is not the only problem Brockton’s public schools are facing. A $14 million budget shortfall previously led to 130 teachers being laid off earlier this year. Officials subsequently ordered a third-party audit of the district’s finances.

Asked about cases of students spending time in the cafeteria, a district spokesperson said officials recently announced a plan to pay teachers extra to use class prep time to cover other courses. 

The spokesperson said officials have also asked teachers to volunteer to cover classes so there will be a licensed teacher in the classroom.  

“Much like nearly every other school district in the state, Brockton has been experiencing the effects of a nationwide teacher shortage,” said spokesperson Jess Silva-Hodges.

While officials contend with the shortage, Lacivita said she feels Brockton High, which state data shows is nearly 80% Black or Hispanic, is being left behind. 

“This is happening in other districts but, if you look at the districts it is happening in, it’s happening where there’s a minority majority,” Lacivita said. 

Brockton’s next school committee meeting is scheduled of Tuesday of next week. Lacivita said she and other parents will be in attendance to be heard and demand some kind of action.

(Copyright (c) 2023 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox