This comes after FISD adopted an amendment within its District of Innovation status, which passed into state law in 2015 to allow school districts access to some options available to charter schools.
The board approved four exemptions at a June 12 meeting. One exemption allows the district to hire an uncertified teacher when efforts to find a certified teacher in a certain subject have been reasonably exhausted. This often happens in career and technical education and world languages courses, said Pamela Linton, FISD’s chief human resources officer.
“Often the best teacher may be someone who is not on a traditional track,” Linton said.
Even with the amendment in play, Linton said the district’s priority remains to hire certified teachers first. If an uncertified teacher is hired, the goal is to steer them toward a university or alternative certification, she said.
The amendment will especially help with hiring in FISD’s Career and Technical Education Center, said Dianna Manuel, the center’s principal. The CTE Center offers real-world learning spaces, equipment and more than 30 programs for students in ninth through 12th grade.
“It can help me broaden my pool of applicants so that I can find the best applicant to put in the classroom,” Manuel said.
Some certifications from teachers at the CTE Center do not necessarily apply to more specific courses, she added. Industry professionals with more real-world experiences under their belts may offer a more well-rounded course for students, she said.
Duana Kindle, FISD’s managing director of human resources, said applicants who are industry professionals will still require strong teaching capabilities.
“It is a very particular skill set,” Kindle said. “Just because you have knowledge does not mean that you can convey that to others.”
Interview questions for industry professional applicants would mostly remain the same, Kindle said, and uncertified hires would be held to the same standard as certified teachers.
Manuel said uncertified applicants often have some kind of teaching experience in their careers—whether it be a nurse who oversees other nurses or a police officer who specifically worked with teenagers.
“Teaching comes from the heart,” Manuel said. “You don’t have to be a teacher under that profession to be a teacher in the world.”
Any class at the CTE Center could be filled by an uncertified industry professional, Manuel said, especially in nursing, architecture, engineering, animation, culinary arts and graphic design.
No uncertified teachers are currently employed at the CTE Center, and Kindle said there is no immediate demand. Until there is one, Linton said it is still hard to say how many uncertified teachers could be employed in FISD for the 2019-20 school year.
“I think, initially at least, it would be rare,” Linton said. “I can’t say that it won’t happen.”
But the exemption allows the district to be prepared to meet any future need, Linton said.
“You never know when there may be a shortage in a given area,” Linton said. “This gives us another option.”