With just three weeks before the school year begins, Shelby County Schools administrators continue to rapidly hire dozens of laid-off teachers.

Nearly 300 laid-off teachers have been rehired in less than a month, leaving just 75 teachers who were laid off last spring who have yet to find a job. Originally 1,000 teachers were displaced after the district closed 10 schools and lost thousands of students to the Achievement School District, charter schools and six newly-formed municipalities last school year. The district gave displaced teachers until June 30 to find a new job or lose their salaries and benefits.

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.

How teachers are hired this year has been topic of public debate during Shelby County School Board meetings and prompted a lawsuit filed by five displaced tenured teachers who disagreed with the district’s hiring practices. They argue laid off tenure teachers should be guaranteed a job rather than have to search for one.

Sheila Redick, head of teacher hiring for the district, said her office is working to ensure teachers get exposure to principals looking to fill vacant positions. “We want to ensure that they’ve had a chance,” Redick said.

School officials need to fill 100 to 150 vacancies before teacher training begins on July 28.  Redick said the district is on target to have 300 to 400 open positions by the end of month.

Shelby County Schools will continue the hiring frenzy with another job fair tentatively scheduled for Friday or Saturday, Redick said.  The district also held a hiring fair on June 30, which was the last day for affected teachers to secure employment before being added to the wait list on July 1.

Contact Tajuana Cheshier at tcheshier@chalkbeat.org and (901) 730-4013.

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