Nearly a full two months into the school year and students in San Clemente High School’s Auto Academy have barely learned anything automobile-related.
According to a student in the program, more than a dozen substitute teachers have shuffled in and out. Most of the time, they watch Planet Earth videos, although they occasionally crack a textbook open.
“I’m definitely disappointed. I think [the school is] going to give us credits this year, but not very much knowledge, which kind of sucks,” said sophomore Noah Zoller, a first-year Auto Academy student.
Teacher James Dunlap resigned his position about two weeks into the school year, Zoller said. Robert McCarroll, the teacher who founded the program more than 30 years ago, came back to fill in during the search for a new teacher, but he left three days into the stint, Zoller said.
Meanwhile, the students cannot even go into the auto shop, as district officials have discovered the room is contaminated with dust, some of it containing lead, a district spokesman has said. Cleanup efforts are expected to take as many as 15 days and cost as much as $75,000.
“Basically, what we’ve been hearing is that we are going to have a teacher in the next six-to-eight weeks and in two weeks, we’ll be back to the classroom,” Zoller said. They’re currently meeting in a science classroom.
Zoller said most of the students -- maybe as many as 150 are affected -- are sticking with the program despite not learning much this semester because like him, they have career plans in the auto repair industry.