Schools on the hunt for more special education teachers

FOND DU LAC (NBC 26) – Teacher shortages are affecting schools across the country, presenting a unique problem when it comes to special education.

About 5% of students in the Fond du Lac School District and about 15% of students in the Green Bay School District need these special education resources, including Department of Public Instruction-certified teachers.

Ginnette Newman, who has worked in special education for 26 years, said the needs of these students can vary – from autism to ADHD to other special learning disabilities. It’s their job to help them stay on track with their peers.

“I think it’s really important to make sure that every student has a goal and feels like they can achieve their goal,” Newman said. “It might just take a little bit longer and require extra work or maybe just the right teachers, but they can do whatever they want.”

Currently, some school districts have vacancies in special education areas.

“One of the challenges we face is that not only can we not find candidates, we can’t find certified candidates,” said Jeffrey Fleig, superintendent of the Fond du Lac school district.

Fleig said some teachers in the district can tech while they’re in the process of earning their certification and take on additional coursework in addition to their day job.

But the need to find DPI-certified special education teachers isn’t just limited to Fond du Lac. Jackie Hauser, director of special education at the Green Bay Area Public School District, said they face similar challenges.

“We definitely see a need for special education teachers in Northeast Wisconsin, but it’s even greater,” Hauser said. “When we meet with other larger neighborhoods, we hear the same thing from them, but also nationwide.”

The Fond du Lac School District is currently seeking three special education teachers and the Green Bay Area Public School District is seeking two special education teachers, two speech therapists and one occupational therapist. The Oshkosh Area School District is seeking five special education teachers and over 20 special education assistants.

“The ideal candidate is someone who firmly believes that the students they work with can do anything they want,” Fleig said.

Newman says these positions are essential to student learning.

“It’s important for me, or any other special education teacher, to be there to help give this student what they need so they can learn the same thing as all the other kids in the classroom,” Newman said.

Fleig said they currently have 10 teachers who are conditionally licensed, meaning they work while they get certified. Hauser said another solution is to work to recruit and hire those teachers earlier.

Oshkosh Area School District communications director Katie Nieman said they are working with UW-Oshkosh to fill some paraprofessional positions.

“This is one of the unique ways we’re trying to respond to ongoing needs and ensure students and staff are supported,” said Nieman.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

| |
Back to top button