In just the last two weeks, Shelby County Schools administrators said they’ve managed to rehire more than 200 teachers they recently laid off.
The district is “working on a process to ensure they’ll get exposure to the principals that are looking,” said Sheila Redick, head of teacher hiring for the district, who said her office has worked feverishly in setting up job fairs for the displaced teachers. “We want to ensure that they’ve had a chance.”
That means only 125 of the original 1,000 people remain on the list of teachers who were laid off after the district closed 10 schools and lost thousands of students to the Achievement School District, charter schools and six newly-formed municipalities. The district gave displaced teachers until June 30 to find a new job or lose their salaries and benefits.
Keith Williams, the president of the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association, was still not satisfied Tuesday. The education association has argued in a lawsuit that the rehiring process the district is using violates the state’s tenure laws. Williams said displaced tenured teachers should be automatically placed by central office staff rather than hand-picked by principals, a “mutual consent” process the district has adopted this year.
“They say there are job openings for teachers, but I don’t see that many,” Williams said Tuesday after a school board meeting. “We’re waiting to see what happens with our lawsuit. If the courts tell them they’re going to have to place teachers, then they’re going to have to move people around.”
The district’s superintendent, Dorsey Hopson II, has said the district’s goal is to ensure that every classroom has a high-quality teacher. The majority of the teachers laid off by the district who hadn’t found jobs by June 24 failed to meet the district’s minimal state standards, administrators said.
John Stokes said he was laid off from his job at Overton High School despite scoring between a three and four on the state’s five-point teacher evaluation process. He’s attended three job fairs this summer but is still unemployed. He told board members Tuesday that he believes veteran teachers are being let go and feels experienced teachers are being treated the same as those without experience.
“Attending the job fairs has been a let down,” said Stokes, who has been a teacher for nine years.