Candice Egan was filling in for a teacher at Creative Arts High in St. Paul on March 22 when she was repeatedly shoved into a wall and a window by a student upset that she confiscated his cell phone.
The class, a teacher’s assistant, the principal, her secretary, a security guard, and the school nurse all knew about the assault.
Egan immediately contacted her direct employer, Teachers on Call, which handles substitute teachers for the district, and filled out an injury report with the school.
On March 24, Egan made a police report.
Then last week, Egan tried to check her schedule of upcoming assignments. She knew she was working every day at different schools throughout St. Paul.
But when she tried to log on to Teachers on Call’s online portal, she discovered that her account had been deactivated. She also had a voicemail from staffing director Caitlin Clark.
“I was kind of alarmed to hear from St. Paul Public Schools today regarding this incident that you recently encountered at Creative Arts Secondary School,” Clark said. “The school seems kind of concerned that none of the staff there were involved as it was happening. So I wanted to check in with you, as the district has given us some, um, directives for how to move forward, so I’m just wanting to discuss the incident.”
When Egan called Clark back, Clark explained that St. Paul was claiming that nobody in the district had been informed about Egan’s assault until it appeared in the news, three days after the incident. Now the district wanted Egan barred from its substitute teacher list.
Egan asked if she could be placed in St. Paul charter schools and suburban schools instead. Clark told her that she could not teach until Teachers on Call completed its own investigation.
The 63-year-old teacher was out of work. She considered retaining a lawyer, but she'd rather just be back in the classroom.
City Pages covered Egan’s suspension on Thursday. Shortly after, Teachers on Call contacted Egan to say that she was being reinstated. She can work in suburban districts or charter schools, but St. Paul still didn't want her back.
St. Paul Schools spokeswoman Toya Stewart Downey confirmed that Egan is no longer on the district sub list, but could not say whether that’s because she did something wrong. Downey just says it's general practice to not ask substitutes back during ongoing police or district investigations.
“The district has the right to request that substitutes not be placed in its schools,” Downey wrote in an email. “There are various reasons why substitutes may not be asked to work for the district. Talking to the media is not one of them.”
It's a curious — if not callous — way to treat a teacher who's been attacked on the job. No one from the district ever reached out to Egan to tell her she'd been barred, nor even contacted her about the assault.
Teachers on Call confirmed that when St. Paul asked for Egan’s removal, the reason was that her assault supposedly appeared in the news before any school officials were told about it.
“Candice is still a substitute with us,” says a Teachers on Call spokeswoman who declined to be named. “She is a valued substitute teacher and she is in good standing with us. She has always been in good standing with us, as far as her employment with us goes.”
The spokeswoman could not comment on whether Egan would get back pay for the jobs she missed. She could not say whether it was the responsibility of Teachers on Call or St. Paul Schools to compensate her for lost work. She would not disclose the name of the St. Paul Public Schools official who made the call to get rid of Egan.
As of Friday, Egan was working as a substitute teacher again – just not in St. Paul Schools.