Education

DeKalb Uses Job Sharing To Help Fix Special Education Teacher Shortage

"We're bringing back retired teachers who can only work half a day, but we put the two together and they do a job share, and they share the classroom,” said DeKalb Superintendent Stephen Green about one plan his district is trying to solve the teacher shortage problem.
"We're bringing back retired teachers who can only work half a day, but we put the two together and they do a job share, and they share the classroom,” said DeKalb Superintendent Stephen Green about one plan his district is trying to solve the teacher shortage problem.
Credit Ian Palmer / WABE file photo

Some of the most difficult teaching jobs to fill are in the field of special education. This year, the DeKalb County School District has dealt with a shortage of special-needs teachers. However, the district says it’s working to fix the problem.

Parents, like Lauren Taylor, have expressed frustration to the school board.

Taylor has a dyslexic son and says he’s not getting the help he needs in school as outlined in his Individualized Education Program (IEP).

“These children inside special education deserve the same education and rights their normal peers receive,” Taylor said. “Our children inside special education deserve to be seen and heard.”

Other parents have echoed Taylor’s concerns, saying their children weren’t getting services described in their IEPs.

The district says the teacher shortage is part of the problem. DeKalb Superintendent Stephen Green says the district is working to solve the issue by trying something different.

“We’re bringing back retired teachers who can only work half a day, but we put the two together and they do a job share, and they share the classroom,” Green said. “One likes to get up early in the morning, the other one likes to get up later. So, combined, we’re actually able to provide a certified teacher for our students, and that’s actually helped us reduce the [vacancies] quite a bit.”

The plan also saves money, because the district doesn’t have to pay benefits.

Even so, Green estimates, about 40 jobs are still unfilled. He says in addition to job sharing, DeKalb hopes to fill the positions by boosting salaries for special education teachers.