DPS to hold job fair for special education teachers

Jul. 16, 2014 @ 07:08 PM

Public Schools will hold a job fair Saturday as part of its strategy to beef up its corps of exceptional-children teachers.

The job fair will be at the school district’s Staff Development Center on Hillandale Road from 9 a.m., to noon.

Kristin Bell, the school district’s executive director for exceptional children, said the goal is to find high qualified teacher for positions that have become increasingly more difficult to fill locally and across the nation.

“We want a large pool of candidates so we’ve been doing a lot of things to reach out to people who might be interested in becoming exceptional children teachers,” Bell said.

As part of its strategy to attract special education teachers, the district will accept lateral entry candidates with bachelor’s degrees.

Bell said that depending on lateral entry candidate’s college transcript, he or she may only have to take a few courses while working toward becoming a licensed certified teacher.

A recent meeting to discuss the qualifications needed for lateral entry as a special education teacher drew more than 200 people, Bell said.

She said the district, which did not fill all of its exceptional children teacher vacancies last school year, has also found that it has an impressive pool of instructional assistants (teacher’s assistants) with bachelor’s degrees who could make the transition to becoming a licensed teacher.

 “They’re already working in our classrooms and they already know Durham,” Bell said. 

 The school district employs about 250 exceptional-children teachers each year and is looking to hire about 20 new ones for the 2014-15 school year.

Candidates who attend the job fair should bring copies of their résumés, phone numbers for two current and past supervisors and copies of any licenses they might have.

According to the most recent update on exceptional children, the district served roughly 4,500 children with various disabilities.  That’s 13.8 percent of the 33,000 students enrolled in Durham Public Schools last school year.

The percentage of students with disabilities in the district has remained stable over the past two years.

During the 2012-13 school year, 4,495 of the district’s 32,484 students, 13.8 percent,  had a disability.

And in the 2011-12 school year, 4,374 of 32,671 or 13.4 percent of students had a disability.