Saturday, January 27, 2001

Special-ed subs difficult to find

Some lack required certification

The Associated Press

        Three of the state's biggest school districts have uncertified substitute teachers in their special-education classrooms.

        State law requires teachers of children with special needs to have special-education training and certification.

        However, the districts — Cincinnati, Cleveland and Toledo — say there aren't enough certified substitutes available for special-education classes and that they can't offer the same pay that substitutes can get in wealthier suburban schools.

        Cincinnati has 63 uncertified special-education teachers. Those teachers are enrolled in certification programs at universities.

        Jan Leslie, Cincinnati Public Schools spokeswoman, said the problem stems from a shortage regionally and nationally.

        “We are trying to encourage people to get certification in that area and we are stepping up our recruitment efforts,” Ms. Leslie said.

        The district might offer signing bonuses next year for certified teachers in the shortage areas of special education, science and math.

        Cincinnati hired experts from Indiana University to take an exhaustive look at its special-education programs and practices.

        Teresa Grossi and Cassandra Cole will present their findings and recommendations to administrators and the Board of Education on Feb. 7.

        Cleveland schools have 132 teachers covering special-education classes without the required certification, said Carol Hauser, the district's director of human resources.

        “The state has not done anything to help us improve the numbers of special-education teachers or provide funding to encourage regular teachers to go into special education,” Ms. Hauser said.

        Funding for special-education programs is a part of the continuing school funding debate among state leaders.

        Gov. Bob Taft and Senate Republicans introduced school-funding plans this week that each promised more money to cover special-education costs. The governor's plan includes $50.6 million for special-ed instruction and $26 million in special-education catastrophic costs.

        Toledo's school district is under investigation by the state for appointing 38 long-term substitutes to special-education classes.

       Enquirer reporter Andrea Tortora contributed.


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