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Palm Coast Tuesday, May 4, 2021 6 days ago

Flagler Schools purges 25 from substitute teacher list to combat unemployment fraud

About 25 subs were purged. The district still has shortage of subs.
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

Flagler Schools’ substitute teacher list has been purged of anyone who has been inactive — some haven’t taken a job in 18 months — in an effort to eliminate unemployment fraud, Chief Human Resources Officer Jewel Johnson told the School Board at its workshop May 4.

The district says about $200,000 in unemployment claims from the previous two quarters were fraudulent. The most recent quarter, covering October to December 2020, was a “more manageable” $42,000, reported Patty Wormeck, Flagler Schools’ chief financial officer.

The district has about 150 substitutes on the books, with about 60 working regularly. Twenty-five were identified as totally inactive and were dropped.

School Board member Colleen Conklin was surprised that a substitute could qualify for unemployment, especially considering there is a shortage of subs in Flagler Schools.

“We have had many subs file for unemployment,” Wormeck said. “Jobs aren’t being filled, and they’re collecting unemployment.”

Wormeck explained that the state doesn’t verify the status of the applicant’s job with the employer. The claim is made by the employee, and some of the cost is passed on to the employer. The employer — the school district in this case — then has to challenge the claims it believes are fraudulent.

“It is a huge burden on us,” Wormeck said.

“Seems like there should be a better process in place,” Conklin said.

If substitutes were purged but would like to begin subbing again, they can reapply, Johnson said. “There’s plenty of work.”

To become a substitute, which pays $70-$90 per day depending on education level, visit


Brian McMillan has been editor of the Palm Coast Observer since it began in 2010. He was named the Journalist of the Year for weekly newspapers in North America by the Local Media Association in 2012. He lives in Palm Coast with his wife and five children. Email...

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