- Associated Press - Thursday, May 5, 2016

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Special education teachers are in demand across South Dakota, and the Sioux Falls School District is even hiring teachers before they’re fully certified.

Sixty-one of the 364 teacher vacancies in the state are for special education positions.

“It is a difficult position to fill,” said Randall Royer, leadership development director for the Associated School Boards of South Dakota. “It also underscores the supply and demand. There’s a demand and there just isn’t enough of a supply.”

The number of Sioux Falls students with special learning needs has grown by about 8 percent - or about 250 students - in the last five years, according to the Argus Leader newspaper (http://argusne.ws/1q1Lqc3 ).

The school district is employing more special education teachers, and encouraging them to apply even if they are still working on a special education degree.

Julie Large, who has taught special education in Sioux Falls for 20 years, attributes the growing need in part to an increase of students with emotional concerns, and thinks the district is being proactive in adding positions.

However, about one-fourth of those hired last year weren’t fully certified at the start of the school year, and that pushes extra work onto fully trained teachers.

“It is challenging for us because they don’t fill out any of the special education paperwork,” teacher Sarah Henrichs said. “That relies on teachers that are certified.”

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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