NASD cited for unlicensed teachers
Published 12:28 am Thursday, October 19, 2017
NATCHEZ — The Mississippi Commission on School Accreditation placed the Natchez-Adams School District on probation Tuesday, citing unlicensed professional staff and teachers working outside their subject areas as infractions.
The NASD was among 17 other districts placed on probation for the 2017-2018 school year, 12 of which were also cited for having unlicensed professional staff teaching.
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Natchez-Adams Schools Superintendent Fred Butcher said 16 unlicensed teachers worked in the district last year, which is the reason for the first charge from the accreditation commission, which is a wing of the Mississippi Department of Education.
Another teacher, he said, taught an advanced placement class but had not been certified at the time, and another certified teacher taught outside her area of certification.
The advanced placement teacher, Butcher said, has since received her certification.
Butcher said the reason for the infractions is simple: a lack of qualified teachers searching for jobs.
“Every time that I meet with a group, in almost every board meeting, I let it be known that we are struggling for teachers,” Butcher said. “We are struggling to get teachers because there are fewer and fewer folks going into education.”
Butcher said the probation status is a warning sign for the district.
“We have to make sure we don’t have those same red flags next year,” he said.
Butcher said his office has reached out to AmeriCorps and Teach For America, organizations which place young teachers or college graduates in schools.
The district also offers one-semester contracts to retired teachers, public relations coordinator Steven Richardson said.
“They have the experience and we open our doors to our retirees to come back and contribute to the family,” Richardson said.
Butcher said the district sends representatives armed with contracts to various teacher recruitment events.
“They can employ a person on the spot if they have their paperwork,” he said.
Deputy Superintendent Zandra McDonald said competing with higher salaries in neighboring states impedes hiring efforts, too.
“We also have to understand that when you look at the state of Mississippi in comparison to other states, the salaries are significantly lower,” McDonald said. “Understand that teachers can leave Mississippi and go right across the line … and they can make significantly higher than they can here in Natchez.”
The real issue, Richardson said, is the lack of certified teachers in Mississippi.
“Everyone is trying to pull from the same pool of teachers,” Richardson said. “It’s limited.”