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School board nixes proposal to hire adjuncts without teaching certificates

Exterior of the Charles C. Mason Education Service Center in Tulsa.
KWGS File Photo
The Charles C. Mason Education Service Center in Tulsa.

A proposed board policy intended to help fill a litany of vacancies was shot down after a public comment period filled with opposition.

The Tulsa Public Schools' Board of Education chose Monday not to pass, or even consider, a proposal to allow the hiring of adjunct teachers without valid teaching certificates.

Leaders of Tulsa's teacher's union and members of the public spoke out against proposed board policy 4211 at Monday's board meeting.

When TPS Board Vice President John Croisant called for a motion to consider the proposition, no board member spoke up, killing the agenda item.

The proposal stems from Oklahoma Senate Bill 1119, which removed a 270-hour limit on adjunct teachers working in classrooms per semester.

The bill was passed as a response to a nationwide teacher shortage, a problem school administrators in Oklahoma still lament.

The bill also said adjunct hires "do not have to meet the standard certification requirements given their professional background," according to a statement after it's signing by Gov. Kevin Stitt.

The rationale behind the proposed policy was "the difficulty in filling teacher vacancies," according to the final meeting agenda.

TPS Superintendent Dr. Ebony Johnson said the school district currently has 168 vacancies.

Johnson said public comment against the proposal swayed the board to axe it.

"It was really important that we listened to the comments that were made by some of our constituents," she said.

However, Johnson said the issue was more a matter of communication with the public and the teacher's union. Johnson said the board intends to revisit the proposal and better explain its details at another meeting.

"We're in a very unfortunate state of affairs as it relates to the level of vacancies that we are struggling with," she said.

Shawna Mott-Wright, president of the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association, which represents the district's public school teachers, spoke against the agenda item during public comment. She was pleased it wasn't considered for a vote.

"We know that we have a lot of vacancies and we know that we need to fill them," Mott-Wright said. "We need to recruit and retain, it's a two-pronged issue."

Ben Abrams is a news reporter and All Things Considered host for KWGS.
Check out all of Ben's links and contact info here.