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Complaint filed over ongoing staff vacancies at San Francisco middle school

The non-profit law firm Public Advocates filed a complaint Monday with San Francisco Unified over unfilled staff positions at Marina Middle School that it said are disrupting students and  teachers who must cope with the vacancies. The complaint said the “staffing instability and chaos” at the schools “are some of the worst we have seen.”

Public Advocates filed a Williams complaint, a process established in 2005 after the state settled a lawsuit demanding that California address unqualified teachers, a shortage of  up-to-date textbooks and substandard facilities. Schools must respond within 30 days to a complaint. Public Advocates was one of the litigants involved in the case.

The complaint cited vacancies since fall of 2022 of a 6th and 7th grade English teacher, a bilingual English, history and Mandarin language teacher, two special education teachers, and  a nurse, social worker and counselor. Instead of a full-time principal, the district has assigned two inexperienced assistant principals to the 647-student school, the complaint said. The district has responded to the open positions by hiring a revolving door of daily and permanent subs, sometimes asking  other teachers to add students to their classes, and sending unsupervised classes to the auditorium to watch movies. It said services for students with disabilities have been seriously delinquent.

A spokeswoman for San Francisco Unified told the San Francisco Examiner Monday that the district had no immediate comment on the complaint but that “Marina is experiencing staffing vacancies consistent with other schools and we have been actively working to fill vacant positions.” The district has several hundred teaching vacancies each year out of 3,500 teaching positions, she said. “We have qualified candidates in the pipeline who we hope to hire to fill most of the vacancies at Marina soon.”

Earlier this month, the newspaper described turbulence and student discipline problems at the school; it said that the school had lost a third of the staff since August.