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Fuzzy math? DeKalb Schools HR chief says district has 2 teacher vacancies, then backpedals

Interim Chief Human Capital Management Officer Everett Patrick said during Monday’s DeKalb County School District work session that the district currently has just two teacher vacancies. 

The statement was immediately met with skepticism from several board members.

The district’s vacancies have been mysteriously dropping since Patrick took over the human capital management department during former chief Leo Brown’s extended absence. In February, the district had 58.5 vacancies. A month later, the number was 30. Two would have represented the district’s lowest number of vacancies in a school year in more than 10 years.

The district also employs about 100 uncertified teachers to assist with the vacancies.

Board members questioned how the number could fall from 30 to two when the district only hired 17 new teachers during the same reporting period. 

Patrick walked back the number, saying there are two teacher vacancies not currently covered by long-term substitute teachers. The district has 47 long-term subs finishing the school year in classrooms. Long-term subs receive additional pay for the job, and the position they cover is marked as filled in district accounting sheets.

“Unless you’re gonna hire these people, they’re going to still be vacancies for the fall coming up,” board member Joyce Morley said. 

Board member Vickie Turner said the reporting changes add ambiguity to the numbers, and adds the appearance of impropriety.

"If we look at this report, it says that we only have two vacancies, right? Which is not correct,” she said.

“That is correct that we have more than two vacancies,” Patrick countered. “The report reflects what’s posted on the web. What I’m hearing is we want to know actual vacancies in the classroom. I’ll figure out a way so that you know what’s posted on the web. In addition to that, there will be a way that it’s clear on the report that it shows what’s on the web and what’s vacant in the classroom.”

Morley appeared to want the previous reporting process back.

“I say ... we report it as it is and not how we’d like it to be,” she said.

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