Atlanta district turns to staffing agency for special education teachers

Atlanta Public Schools is turning to a staffing agency to fill special education teaching positions. BOB ANDRES  / AJC FILE PHOTO

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Atlanta Public Schools is turning to a staffing agency to fill special education teaching positions. BOB ANDRES / AJC FILE PHOTO

Atlanta Public Schools will seek outside help to fill special education teaching positions for its virtual program.

The board this week agreed to spend an estimated $500,000 through a contract with the staffing agency 360 Degree Customer Inc. The company will provide special education teachers to the Atlanta Virtual Academy.

APS started the school year with about 680 students enrolled in its online program. But weeks after classes began in August, interest in the virtual program increased amid a surge in COVID-19 cases sparked by the delta variant.

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The district responded by reopening the application window to allow more students to move from in-person to online learning in January, as the second semester started.

The expansion required the district to hire more teachers mid-year to lead online classes.

APS offered a $3,000 hiring bonus, but officials said they have had trouble recruiting enough special education teachers to meet the need.

”We are actually actively working on securing additional staffing to address the special education shortage because we did have a little bit of difficulty with finding teachers who can teach virtually with special ed,” said Katika Lovett, assistant superintendent of student services, at this week’s board meeting.

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About 2,310 students are signed up for virtual learning, said Aleigha Henderson-Rosser, assistant superintendent for instructional technology.

She said APS was able to accommodate almost all students who requested to make the switch, except some special education students.

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