Fox 45 Investigates: Huffmaster, company slated to provide DPS substitutes
DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - Days away from school starting, parents in Dayton Public Schools are anxious, after being told their kids could be stuck with substitutes on day one.
"I have a junior, and I have an 8th grader," said DPS parent Rita.
Rita's main concern is a son with special needs, who requires stability in his learning environment. Her thoughts echoed other parents who are hesitant to trust outsiders, if teachers hit the picket lines.
DPS Superintendent Rhonda Corr is working to ease fears.
"All teachers will be licensed and certified, background checked," she said.
The district is planning to pay nearly $150,000 to Huffmaster Crisis Response.
"They're known throughout Ohio," Corr said.
According to their website: "We can assist with all aspects of pre-strike contingency planning and, if a work stoppage occurs, we can provide replacement workers, strike-trained uniformed officers and a full array of supporting services."
The company is connected to several union disputes statewide over the past few years. Last year, Louisville City Schools in Stark County paid nearly $1 million for services over 35 days, according to invoices obtained by the Canton Repository.
A FOX 45 investigation revealed back in 2014, parents filed a complaint against Huffmaster, Reynoldsburg City Schools and the Reynoldsburg Education Association, during a 15-day teachers' strike.
The plaintiff cited safety concerns, asking the courts to close schools after fights and chaotic conditions. According to reports, police made several arrests leading to limited mobility lock-down inside the building, and forcing parents pick up students.
The complaint claims there wasn't enough staff on hand, and hired employees slept on the job, harassed and stole from students. Rita told FOX 45 that she won't send her 8th grader in.
"How are they going to be able to teach the way their teacher's going to teach them?" she said.
FOX 45 asked Corr if there will be enough staff to potentially fill every single one of the positions.
"Yes," she said. "We will be ready."
Fox 45's Shavon Anderson reached out to Huffmaster for comments, and left several messages. No one responded to the request for interview.