Wood County Schools Face Shortage of Special Education Teachers | News, Sports, Jobs


PARKERSBURG — There are currently 16 openings in Wood County for Department of Special Education teachers.

There are three branches in the Department of Special Education with vacancies. There are two autism positions, two gifted positions and 12 multi-category (multi cat) positions available.

“Multi-category is a special education position,” said Stephanie Cunningham, administrator of Wood County Schools Human Resources Certification and Teacher Licensing. “He is a classroom teacher who can teach a variety of students with behavioral challenges, mental disabilities, and other health and learning disabilities. The West Virginia State Certification Office calls all of these as one large group, multi-category disabilities. »

The three classifications require a different certification specific to that classification to teach in those positions.

Although it was difficult to fill these positions, it does not seem to be a problem for the other positions.

“We are doing well in other areas” said Deputy Superintendent and Director of Human Resources John Merritt. “We seem to be going through a typical summer hiring process.”

It was reported to the Wood County Board of Education at its regular meeting on June 14 that 27 new teachers have been hired and there are many viable candidates for other positions, including service staff, but the district still lacks special education teachers.

Speaking on Wednesday, Merritt said he thinks one of the main issues is that more multi-chat positions are being added as people continue to drop out of special education.

“We are losing teachers in those positions and then adding more.” Merritt said. “So I think that’s the biggest problem right now. We have so many vacancies in multiple categories and we don’t have a lot of applicants.”

Merritt thinks one of the reasons teachers can leave special education may have to do with new laws dictating how those classrooms are monitored. There are currently two cameras recording everything in these classrooms and Special Education is the only classroom that usually has cameras. If there was a problem, it allowed admins to review footage and find those issues, but new laws now require admins to watch 15 minutes a week.

“I think it causes some apprehension in people when they know they’re being watched.” Merritt said. “I don’t know if it’s a big draw for people to leave the pitch, I’m not exactly sure, but I don’t think it’s a helpful factor.”

Another issue is the additional needs of students as their Individual Education Program (IEP) grows.

“IEPs drive instruction, and if there are that many minutes in a student’s IEP, a teacher can only have a limited number of students in their workload.” said Cunningham. “So once a teacher exceeds the workload, additional teachers are needed.”

Some suggestions for these issues were presented to the board at the June 14 meeting, but the school board requested that a proposal be drafted and presented at a subsequent meeting in July.

The next School Board meeting for Wood County Schools is scheduled for June 28. The council meets at the offices at 13th and Plum streets in Parkersburg and the meeting is open to the public. This issue should not be discussed at this meeting.

Douglass Huxley can be contacted at [email protected]

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