SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – The extended absence of a teacher for a San Francisco elementary school’s Spanish-English immersion program has left young students struggling to learn with substitute teachers who are not bilingual.

Monroe Elementary is a magnet school for the school district’s dual-language immersion program. The SFUSD claims it will take native English speakers and native Spanish speakers and make them bilingual by 8th grade. But at the start of the school year, Monroe didn’t have a fifth grade bilingual teacher on the schedule. So they hired a substitute who didn’t speak Spanish.

Parents say a teacher debacle at the school is nothing new.

“The children have had about eight substitutes now, and only one of them spoke Spanish. She was with us for maybe seven days” said Monroe Elementary parent Rose Medellin.

Parents say more than a month into the school year, the immersion program curriculum is on hold. Classrooms are dangerously overcrowded and eight students have already chosen to transfer.

“These are students who would have loved to graduate with their class. They’ve been here since kinder. They live in the neighborhood and had to move,” said Medellin.

Angry parents brought up the problems with the school’s bilingual program at a school board meeting on August 28th.

The district released a statement that read in part, “We have offered the position to a candidate and are in the process of working out details related to a candidate’s employment. There has been a credentialed substitute teacher leading the class since the beginning of the school year.”

With that candidate is out of state, the district won’t say when they might be able to start.

In the meantime, the few bilingual parents at Monroe are helping out as translators for the class while they all wait for the fifth-grade immersion program to get off the ground.

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