RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As students prepare to ring in a new school year in less than two weeks, Richmond Public Schools still has 76 teacher openings. 8News has confirmed 35 of those openings are in special education.The special ed openings are across the board, elementary, middle and high school.
The special ed openings are across the board in elementary, middle and high school, however the schools shorted the most Huguenot High School and Martin Luther King Middle School. Both schools are need of six special ed teachers.
“All the studies show that the number one weapon in the arsenal for educating students in high poverty areas is having a highly qualified teacher in front of the classroom and having consistency,” School Board Member Kim Gray told 8News.
Earlier this week, Gray told 8News the school system is aggressively advertising the positions and hired a contractor to help temporarily fills spots, which is troubling to many parents and child advocates who say many special needs students demand consistency and stability for success in the classroom. They fear having a temporary teacher who is swapped out later in the year could be devastating to a special needs student’s progress.
“I don’t believe that the teachers or staff or administrators are properly trained,” said Jewel Cannon, the parent of a special needs student.
She and other parents have raised serious concerns about the special ed teachers the district already employs. They allege staff has not been following federal mandates and updating student’s Individual Education Programs (IEP’s).
“I think they are incompetent,” said another special needs parent, LaQuetta Massey. “I don’t think they really understand what they are really supposed to be doing.”
RPS has implemented a corrective action plan after failing to meet state performance targets but parents fear this teacher shortage could be another setback.