System costly for on-call teachers

Part-time teachers have a choice of breaking the law against texting and driving or risk losing work, a teacher’s union representative says.

Antonia Tsiolas, the union’s on-call chair, recently told trustees that the current automated call system needs an update so on-call teachers can use voice commands to respond when the district computer dials their number to see if they’re available for some fill-in work.

The only voice command the system recognizes right now is “hello.”

After that, the only way an on-call teacher can communicate with the system to accept or refuse an assignment is by punching in numbers using their telephone buttons.

If no number is entered after a teacher picks up, the system hangs up and moves on to the next available person.

The lack of response is recorded by the computer as a refusal and too many refusals will count against an on-call teacher.

“The choice is either break the law or lose work,” Tsiolas said.

If an on-call teacher happens to be driving, even with a hands-free cell phone, they have no legal way of responding, Tsiolas said. A new law banning hand held cell phones forbids any kind of texting.

Teachers are asking the district to modernize the automatic dialer so it understands voice responses, or hire people to make the calls. And maybe stop calling during rush hour.