Photo: AJC file
Photo: AJC file

DeKalb Schools saying little on how special ed vacancies are addressed

In three months, DeKalb County School District officials say the district has eliminated more than 100 special education vacancies, but hired fewer than 30 special education teachers to do so.

During Monday’s DeKalb County Board of Education meeting, Interim Chief Human Capital Management Officer Linda Woodard said the district had 58 special education teacher vacancies as of Oct. 3, down from approximately 170 special education teacher vacancies reported in July.

District officials have not provided specific numbers for how the vacancies were handled.

Since September, the number of vacancies was down 34 from 92. According to the district’s monthly human capital management report, the district hired no special education teachers and eight special education paraprofessional staffers. Seventeen interrelated teachers and 9 interrelated paraprofessionals, who could help lead special education classes, were hired during that time period. Woodard said 14 of the special education vacancies were eliminated through collapsing classes.

District officials said in a statement that their strategy to fill special education classrooms saw some district employees promoted to teaching roles and some general assignment teachers reassigned to fill gaps, among other things. 

Special education teachers are responsible for some of the most vulnerable of learners and must meet certain federal and state requirements. The job often requires much more paperwork to show students are taught according to Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) built to teach students at their respective paces. 

But burnout happens more often, leading to higher-than-average turnover and teachers shifting to other areas of instruction, or leaving the field altogether.

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