- Associated Press - Monday, August 11, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AP) - With schools opening in two weeks for more than 300,000 students, administrators in Las Vegas say they’re unable to hire teachers on temporary licenses to relieve a looming shortage.

The nation’s fifth-largest school district is still 650 teachers short of the approximately 18,000 needed on its more than 350 campuses, Staci Vesneske, Clark County School District human resources chief, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Officials have identified 32 schools that may start classes Aug. 25 with at least five teacher vacancies. Principal Anthony Nunez at Manch Elementary School told the Review-Journal (https://bit.ly/1ynMepm ) he’s had 34 teacher positions to fill this summer.

District officials say they’re hampered because the Nevada Department of Education won’t grant temporary licenses to new teachers who meet experience or degree standards but need time to meet state requirements.

Department educator effectiveness director Dena Durish said temporary licenses were allowed last year as emergency relief after state lawmakers created “zoom school” programs for students learning to speak English. The move meant the district needed to hire 2,000 new teachers to meet smaller class size requirements and to staff newly created programs.

Durish said it was clear the law was for a unique circumstance.

The district says federal law allows temporary teacher licenses and points to other Western states that provide provisional certificates. Clark County school trustees voted last week to circumvent the policy decision and appeal directly to the Legislature to create nonrenewable, six-month licenses for newly hired teachers

School Board member Linda Young called temporary licensing “absolutely essential” to helping recruit the 2,000 or so teachers the district hires each summer.

Starting in 2002, the federal No Child Left Behind Act required that any state receiving Title I money have highly qualified teachers in elementary schools and the core subjects of English, reading, math, science, foreign languages, government, economics, art, history and geography. The act defines “highly qualified” as obtaining full state certification and not having “certification or licensure requirements waived on an emergency, temporary or provisional basis,” as the district has requested.

In response to the 2002 federal requirement, Nevada lawmakers adopted similar statutes and the standards commission prohibited the state superintendent from issuing provisional licenses in core subjects.


Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, https://www.lvrj.com

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