After a years-long struggle with staff shortages, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is about 99 percent staffed before the new school year starts on Aug. 15, according to district officials.
A spreadsheet posted on the district’s website Aug. 10 listed more than 170 teaching positions, among which about 80 were at high-needs schools—namely schools with more students of disadvantaged social-economic backgrounds.
As of Aug. 12, the district still had 155 vacant positions, according to an LAUSD official.
It’s a far cry from this spring when the district needed to fill about 1,500 teaching positions and 1,000 staff positions before the new school year, according to officials.
All district employees reporting to work in person are still required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 though the student vaccine mandate is on hold until at least 2023.
An LAUSD spokesperson told The Epoch Times recruitment began to pick up this spring as many COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.
“During the pandemic, our ability to conduct in-person events was extremely limited by COVID health restrictions,” the spokesperson said. “This past spring, many of those restrictions began to lift, and we were able to conduct in-person recruitment locally, throughout California, and from select sources throughout the nation.”
Graduating LAUSD high school seniors were welcomed by four hiring fairs in June to fill the district’s staff positions.
Meanwhile, the district continued to use digital techniques adopted during the pandemic, such as virtual recruitment events, for external candidates and current employees—such as substitute teachers—who are interested in teaching positions.
To bring in more teachers, the LAUSD expanded recruitment to hire new university graduates locally and nationally through its District Intern program, in which interns can earn preliminary teaching credentials while gaining field experience.
To encourage credentialed teachers to join high-needs schools, the district is offering extra incentives, including 20 hours of paid professional development each year and a $5000 stipend to those who teach at the same school for at least three years, according to the district’s website.
The stipend will be split into three payments—$2,000 in the first year, $1,500 in the second year, and $1,500 in the third year.
This comes after the state Department of Education reported in June that one in five classrooms in the LAUSD were taught by teachers without full credentials during the 2020–21 school year.
While 83 percent of district teachers were considered “clear,” or fully credentialed to teach in their assigned classrooms, more than 15 percent are teaching outside of their credentialed areas, outside of their specialized student groups, or with no credentials.
The district was short of about 420 in-classroom teachers this spring semester, which prompted its Superintendent Alberto Carvalho to direct non-teaching district staff who held teaching credentials or who formerly held teaching positions to fill in the gap for the rest of the school year.
The shortage was partly due to the district’s employee COVID-19 vaccine mandate enacted in November 2021, according to the parent and teacher advocacy group Los Angeles Educators & Parents United.
More than 800 unvaccinated staff members were fired during the 2021–22 school year for non-compliance, and about 600 teachers were forced to move out of classrooms to teach remotely in the district’s online learning program, City of Angels, according to the advocacy group.
The district hasn’t confirmed the number of teachers who were fired because of being unvaccinated after multiple requests for comment.
In a press conference Aug. 8, Carvalho said he considers the district adequately staffed, and there were 500 staff members on standby in case there are classrooms without teachers.
“Going into the first day of…