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CCSD hiring practices come into question as licensed educators face mysterious rejections

Licensed, highly educated teachers are being turned away by a school district that is suffering from a severe staffing shortage.
Published: Feb. 28, 2022 at 10:54 PM PST
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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Licensed, highly educated teachers are being turned away by a school district that is suffering from a severe staffing shortage.

The hiring practices of the Clark County School District’s human resources department are now coming into question, as applicants say the reasons for rejection are unclear or unfair.

“We’ve got people that are obviously qualified. What’s the problem?” asked Gerald Bradshaw, who was recently rejected from a CCSD substitute teacher position.

CCSD has suffered from a staff shortage for years, but the timing of these claims is particularly ironic as desperate times seem to call for emergency measures. Amid school staffing shortages, Nevada’s Legislative Commission gave final approval Monday on making permanent a regulation that will allow CCSD to have the option of hiring emergency substitute teachers, particularly during a state of emergency like a pandemic.

Unlike traditional subs, an emergency sub’s only academic requirement is a high school diploma. Anyone 18 or older with a high school diploma can apply.

The emergency sub option is something a CCSD spokesperson told FOX5 that they support. The member of the district communications office wrote, “With the nationwide teacher shortage, school districts across the state and country must utilize every option to pair teachers with students to raise academic performance and satisfy the social-emotional wellbeing of our students.”

Meanwhile, applicants with traditional state licenses and college degrees tell FOX5 they’re being shut out by CCSD’s HR department.

“They’re obviously talking about how much they need help in the school district,” said Bradshaw. “My wife said, ‘Hey, why don’t you do something useful, and give back?’”

Giving back is something Bradshaw’s done much of throughout his life. He served in the United States Air Force for 22 years before flying planes for Southwest Airlines, where he discovered his passion for education.

“With Southwest Airlines, I had done several what they call ‘adopt-a-pilot’ classes, where you would go for, I think it was about five sessions, and you would work with the kids on aerodynamics, and physics and science and math,” said Bradshaw.

Now retired, the Las Vegas local thought he’d start the process to become a substitute teacher.

“I paid the fee to get my license, I think which is about $120,” said Bradshaw. He said it totaled roughly $200, once he paid for his transcripts to be sent and his fingerprinting process.

Bradshaw has a master’s degree, which far exceeds the state’s academic requirements for a sub. After they collected his fingerprints, the state ran a background check on him.

“Flying very top secret clearance, I wasn’t concerned about any kind of background check,” said Bradshaw.

The Silver State granted Bradshaw his substitute teaching license in October 2021, and he applied to a CCSD substitute position thereafter.

“The website comes up and says something along the lines of, ‘Thank you for your submission, we’ll be back with you shortly for more details,’” said Bradshaw. “After about three weeks to a month, I decided to go back on the website, to just do some searching ... There was this small little thing that had said, ‘Thank you for your submission to CCSD, but we’ve decided to go further with other candidates.”

In so many words, he had received a “thanks, but no thanks,” without follow-up or reason.

“I’ve never been fired from any job. I’ve never been let go. I’ve never been disciplined,” said Bradshaw. “I don’t know if it was because of my military background. I don’t know if it’s because they think I’m too old.”

It’s the lack of transparency in Bradshaw’s rejection that others told FOX5 they’re experiencing as well. Mark Robinson, a former teacher, who years ago actually used to teach for CCSD, has a Master’s degree in education and an active Nevada Teacher’s License.

“I’ve got 19 years teaching experience,” said Robinson.

He said he decided to take a break from teaching. Then, on Nov. 5, he made the decision to apply to be a school bus driver.

“I’ve seen the issues that the CCSD is going through, and thought that I’d, ya know, toss my hat back in the ring.”

Robinson said he has a clean driving record, and attached a copy of his 10-year driving record to his application, per CCSD’s request. No commercial driver’s license is needed to apply, according to the district.

But on Nov. 18, he said he got an email from an HR representative that states, “After a thorough review, we regret to inform you that your file is not among those to receive further consideration. We hope this clarifies the district’s decision that your file will not receive further consideration for employment.”

Clarity is the last thing he says he took from that.

“They have never said [why]. They have never answered any of my emails. I have never had a black mark against me,” said Robinson.

Robinson said he was also recently denied for teaching position, as well.

As FOX5 reported in early January, the district said that for any applicants seeking follow up, there is an appeal process one can pursue. So after seeing our story, Robinson decided to do just that.

He was shocked when he said the HR department wrote back, saying this: “As part of the application process, you signed a civil applicant waiver stating that you ‘waive your right to inspect, review, copy or receive any of the information provided by any person or organization.’ As such, I am unable to provide you with a specific reason for why your application was removed from the process. "

FOX5 has made several attempts over time to get to the bottom of these claims and practices.

Over email, FOX5 has asked the district for an interview with Chief of HR Nadine Jones nine separate times over the course of the last several months. Each time, our requests have been deflected or ignored.

A communications professional did call us recently to say they cannot provide any information on individuals’ claims because of privacy laws. Meanwhile, without access to an interview with top district leaders, questions linger.

“I think that the applicants deserve some kind of answer as to what makes them not qualified,” said Bradshaw.

But it’s not just reasons undisclosed seemingly keeping licensed teachers out of the district; it’s also reasons that educators like Mary Marshall-Lang say are unfair.

“This requirement should be removed for everyone,” said Marshall-Lang. “This should be addressed by the board.” Marshall-Lang is referring to the reason the district gave her, for a rejection from a teaching position.

She has an active Nevada teacher’s license and two master’s degrees, including one in education from UNLV in 2016.

“I was the very first student to graduate with a focus in my Master’s in teaching English as a second language,” said Marshall-Lang.

In 2018, she applied for a teaching job at CCSD.

“My application was rejected because I didn’t have classroom experience. So, I had a Master’s and a Bachelor’s in education, and I was blown away,” said Marshall-Lang.

She does have teaching experience, however: she student-taught a fourth grade classroom to earn her bachelor’s in 2012, and she completed a required practicum for her master’s degree four years later, where she tutored English language learners at the Clark County Library.

So that is why she sent an email to Jones, the chief of HR at CCSD.

“And said, ‘What is this?’ And, ‘Can you make an exception for me?” she said. “And the response I received from her ... she specifically states that, ‘We will not make an exception. You need to have recent classroom experience.’”

She continued. “And in her email she suggested that I become a long-term sub with the district. And at that time, that particular principal could do an evaluation for me, and at that time I could then get into the pool of teachers. However, in that time of my life, I was working full-time at UNLV in the financial aid department, which would have meant I would have had to quit a full-time job, very nice salary.”

She said where she previously lived, in Illinois, recent classroom experience is not required for a teaching job, when you’re licensed and educated to the degree that she is.

“I would like to get that position on my own merits. I am licensed, and I am degreed,” said Marshall-Lang.

Despite avoiding our requests for interviews, CCSD responded to our emails with a statement.

They told FOX5 Friday, “Applicants may be deemed non-competitive based on a review of the totality of their application which includes; work history, references, application eligibility check, and documents required. Applicants are not permitted to review correspondence or notes provided by other people and/or organizations. The CCSD application vetting and eligibility check process are designed to ensure every employee hired by CCSD has suitable qualifications to provide a safe, welcoming environment for students and their fellow employees.”

CCSD has made several attempts to recruit more employees and ease the impacts of the staffing shortage:

  • At the start of the school year, they asked state officials to lend them National Guard members to serve as bus drivers, but were denied.
  • CCSD also altered bus routes schedules, and consolidated routes.
  • They also partnered with regional transit to bus some CCSD high school students to school.
  • They created incentives throughout the school year to increase the percentage of teacher absences filled by substitutes.

CCSD’s website does show a higher number of subs in their pool recently. Data shows there were roughly 4,300 subs in their pool in early August, and just over 4,700 in early February.