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Published: Sunday, 1/21/2001

Replace uncertified teachers

Perhaps not enough qualified special-education teachers are available to meet the demand in Toledo Public Schools and other school districts. Still, it is unacceptable whenever teachers are uncertified to instruct their charges. That there are 40 such teachers in TPS special-ed classes is inexcusable.

Indeed, it is not the district's fault that the pool of qualified special-ed teachers is low. Education colleges must address the issue soon. Meanwhile, even though it's disturbing that TPS officials didn't know the extent of their problem, they are endeavoring to rectify it.

What brought the matter to light was a parent's complaint that her son's grades have dropped and that he's been frequently disciplined since he was transferred from Riverside School to the sixth-grade learning disabilities class at Spring School. The state department of education has ordered that teacher replaced with a certified special-education teacher.

But that isn't the only special-ed classroom where uncertified special-ed teachers should be replaced, and the Ohio Department of Education is investigating the shortage.

Yet how can the state mandate that special-education teachers be certified in that field knowing that there are too few to meet the demand? Even an Ohio Department of Education spokesman acknowledged that the shortage is far more widespread.

TPS faces this dilemma partly because some special-ed teachers fled to other districts after the operating levy failed last March. Then, a looming financial crisis kept personnel officials from recruiting at colleges of education.

Meanwhile, TPS has considered grouping students with various learning abilities and consolidating the classes to eliminate uncertified positions, which would require busing special-ed students. Granting temporary special-ed certification to already certified teachers seems another viable alternative, though not for the long term.

However the district resolves the problem, TPS cannot afford to allow this troubling situation to endure indefinitely.

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