Teachers Lacking Certification Face Dismissal

By Yolanda Woodlee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 25, 2007

A D.C. public schools official has notified more than 300 teachers that they will be terminated next month if they do not have the proper credentials to remain in the classroom.

The teachers were told they "will be terminated from DCPS effective June 30," unless they notify the Office of Human Resources that they can produce a valid District teaching or service provider license, Johnnie Fairfax, the office's acting director, wrote in a May 21 letter. If the teachers can verify that they are currently enrolled in a program and will complete the course work by Aug. 31, they will be granted an exception.

All the teachers notified were hired before or during the 2001-02 school year, schools spokesman John C. White said.

School officials had said in August that they filled more than half of the teacher vacancies by rehiring 470 uncertified teachers who needed a year to complete their requirements.

"If you're not certified in five years, under the No Child Left Behind law, we have no choice," White said. "If you don't have it by June 30, you will be terminated."

The letters were mailed to 145 elementary school teachers and 157 junior high and high school teachers. By yesterday, 16 teachers had informed the human resources office that they had completed the requirements and could provide the documentation.

George Parker, president of the Washington Teachers' Union, said that he expects more teachers will meet certification requirements by the deadline. It is unclear how many teachers will be terminated.

The numbers are far lower than last year, when the superintendent reported that about one-fourth of the teachers in the school system, or about 1,100, were not certified.

At the time, many of the teachers had not produced a valid D.C. teaching license or had provisional licenses that had expired. Some of the teachers needed to pass the District's licensing exam, while others needed more college credit hours in the subject they were teaching.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company