Despite hundreds of teachers left unemployed throughout Georgia, DeKalb County will hire 67 teachers from other countries.
The school board voted 7-1 Monday night to approve contracts with two international employment firms that will provide teachers from abroad.
“We need to look to hire the best candidates regardless of who they are, where they are and where they come from,” said Jamie Wilson, the district’s chief human resources officer. “They are very highly qualified and skilled teachers.”
Many of the international teachers bring 12-15 years experience teaching higher level math and science courses, Wilson said.
Despite Fulton, Cobb and other districts cutting teachers, DeKalb is still struggling to find educators for certain subjects.
“Generally there is a national wide shortage in math, sciences and special education teachers,” Wilson said.
After hiring the international teachers, DeKalb -- which has 6,700 teachers -- still has 44 teaching vacancies, interim superintendent Ramona Tyson said.
The district is now going through a pool of applicants and plans to have these vacancies filled by the start of school next month. As a backup, the system has a list of substitute teachers, but they likely won't be needed, Tyson said.
Board vice chair Zepora Roberts was the lone vote against the international contracts.
“I have a problem with this particular one because our surrounding districts have laid off so many teachers," Roberts said. "I find it difficult we have to go outside the United States to find teachers to come to DeKalb to teach. I think we should be looking to care for our own before we start going to the outside.”
The teachers, who are required to pass an English fluency exam, will be evaluated the same way as DeKalb teachers.
“If there is a need for improvement, the agencies are contacted and provide professional support,” Wilson said.
Principals can then recommend termination if the teacher does not improve after training.
The district will pay $1.53 million to Global Teachers Research & Resources and $2.65 million to In-talage, Inc., which covers the teachers’ salaries that range from $34,000-$79,000.
DeKalb has used international teachers for the past 5-10 years. Last year, the international firms provided 74 teachers.
DeKalb educates 85 percent of the refugee children who come to Georgia, according to state officials.
“We live in a global world," board member Eugene Walker said. "We can’t be so parochial in providing talent for our students. This is one of the features of the DeKalb School System that I’m very proud of. Other foreign countries hire American teachers the same way for the richness and diversity they bring.”
Last week 60 unemployed teachers interviewed with a firm recruiting in Atlanta for teaching positions in Abu Dhabi and other cities abroad.
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com