Credit: Julie Leopo/EdSource
There are about 200 teacher vacancies in Los Angeles Unified, the district says.

Just over 200 classroom teaching positions remain open across LAUSD’s nearly 1,000 schools following a summer of ramped-up recruitment. That leaves the district at a 99% fill rate as it welcomes students back to the classroom Monday to start the new year amid a nationwide staffing shortage that’s ongoing since before the pandemic.

“We are doing very, very well, even when comparing ourselves to small districts,” Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said when discussing staffing Monday at a news conference.

The district began the summer with 2,100 vacancies. Those hired include fully credentialed teachers as well as those on provisional and intern permits. About 700 of those positions were officially filled in the last week following the return of principals and assistant principals to their schools on July 20 and 29, according to the district. 

The sudden drop in vacancies, however, has left United Teachers Los Angeles, the primary union representing LAUSD teachers, with questions.

“We find it improbable that the district was able to fill 700 vacancies in less than two weeks considering that LAUSD continues to fall behind other districts in terms of the pay, class size and working conditions offered by comparable districts. The fact that we have sizable vacancies year after year is the real issue at hand,” UTLA Secondary Vice President Julia Van Winkle said in a statement to EdSource.

Last summer, the district started the school year with about 500 open positions, with 900 positions filled in June and July.

More than a quarter of the remaining vacancies consist of special education positions, followed by elementary school, math and science positions, according to LAUSD’s vacancy list, last updated Tuesday. A third are situated across Local District West, which includes parts of the South Bay and South and West Los Angeles. Half are in schools ranked as high- or highest-need by the Student Equity Needs Index the district uses to allocate funding based on need.

Looking at current staffing levels, Carvalho said he considers the district adequately staffed, saying the remaining positions go beyond necessary ratios due to schools’ flexibility in opening additional positions. He said LAUSD’s struggle with vacancies has been an issue of teacher distribution rather than shortage, adding that the district has not had trouble getting enough applicants but in getting applicants who are willing to work where needed. 

“If you have somebody who lives in East L.A., and the call comes from a school in the Valley, sometimes there’s a challenge there,” Carvalho said. “We have a lot of applicants, a lot of people on the eligibility roster, but sometimes the match is not that easy.”

Still, the district has 500 staff members on standby for redeployment in the first week of school as LAUSD continues its dependence on administrators and out-of-classroom teachers to fill any gaps as the new school year begins. It’s a practice the district began using to address the teacher shortage in April, shortly after Carvalho joined LAUSD as superintendent. By the end of last school year, LAUSD redeployed 700 staff members to vacancies across the district, replacing both long- and short-term substitute teachers. Redeployed staff were assigned to classes aligned with their credentials, Carvalho said.

“This was a promise we made, a promise we are going to keep,” Carvalho said, referring to the district’s goal to start the school year with credentialed staff in every classroom.  “Going into the first day of school, I guarantee to this community every single student will have a remarkable teacher in front of them.”

LAUSD is also continuing its hiring freeze for teachers looking to move to out-of-classroom positions, meaning that teachers will have to remain in their current positions until a new one is hired to replace them.

Over the last few months, LAUSD has hosted daily hiring fairs across schools, held webinars and information sessions, and conducted in-person recruitment throughout the community, California and beyond. 

As the fall approaches, district officials will continue to reconnect with local universities in person and are planning on reaching out to student organizations and affinity groups, according to the district. It has also focused on building its relationships with historically Black colleges and universities across the country as it aims to increase the number of Black educators.

Incoming Hamilton High School senior Maleeyah Frazier is hoping to see the impact of district hiring at her school as the new year shortly approaches. Vacancies haven’t been hard to fill at Hamilton, Frazier said. Though all of her own classes were staffed last year, she watched her friends and her twin sister navigate the instability of not having a permanent teacher. The AP English language class, for example, would either have substitutes or be taught by another AP teacher during her conference period before an administrator stepped in to teach while also handling administrative work, she recalled. 

“It’s really detrimental to student learning because they don’t get to create those relationships or have student-teacher relationships with their teachers,” Frazier said. “We know that those are really important in order for students to thrive within the educational system — to have real student-teacher connections.”

Frazier’s had her fair share of classes without a permanent teacher too, remembering back to seventh grade, when her English class was taught for months by a long-term substitute. It made her feel like she was missing out on honing her writing skills before high school, she said. 

Since launching its hiring spree a few months ago, LAUSD said it would prioritize filling positions at its highest-need schools. The district is offering a $5,000 signing bonus to new teachers who work at identified fragile schools. That includes Crenshaw High School, which ranks as a highest-need school, according to the district’s formula. 

Crenshaw High School alumna Kamarie Brown dealt with staffing changes toward the end of her senior year in 2021 and remembers watching peers in other classes manage the shift from permanent teachers to substitute teachers as well. As the student board member during the 2020-21 school year, she also remembers discussing the issue of vacancies and instability with students at town hall meetings.

“While at school, I was kind of happy some days that we had a sub,” Brown recalled. “But at the end of the day, looking back, it’s kind of like, we really don’t know the effect it has on us, right?”

Crenshaw High School no longer has open teaching positions listed on the LAUSD website but had four open in mid-July.

UTLA’s Van Winkle said she believes focusing on new hiring is only part of addressing the teacher shortage. She said in a statement to EdSource that the focus needs to be on retention, since the district continues to deal with shortages year after year.

Only focusing on yearly vacancies at the start of the school year ignores the real issue of long-term teacher retention,” Van Winkle said in the statement. “Until LAUSD can provide teachers with the pay and working conditions necessary to thrive in the classroom long term, our ability to maintain veteran teachers in the classroom will continue to disrupt student learning and school culture across the district.” 

UTLA is currently in negotiations with LAUSD over their new contract, pushing for a 20% salary increase over the next two years, smaller class sizes and more. Negotiations are picking up again after UTLA’s summer hiatus, and it’s the first time negotiating with Carvalho at the district’s helm.

LAUSD said it plans to direct more efforts toward retention, which Carvalho said he recognizes as the next step. It’s one of the goals listed in the district’s new strategic plan, which will guide priorities for the next four years. The district is aiming to diversify the workforce, build new pipelines for teachers and expand professional development opportunities and wellness support, according to the plan.

Teachers like Nicolle Fefferman, who is taking a leave from teaching after 15 years with the district, hope the promises of the strategic plan aren’t too good to be true, as they await the results of the district’s bargaining with UTLA. The pandemic hit hard for her and others, she said, as teachers dealt with virtual learning, the mental health toll and learning loss.

“The push to make it business as usual this last year was what sort of killed me,” said Fefferman, a co-founder of the Parents Supporting Teachers group. “There was all this conversation about self-care and social-emotional learning. And even before we hit the school year, I was begging my administration, please tell us exactly how we’re going to help each other … and nobody would answer me.”

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  1. Annonymous 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    According to Mr. Gomez, the Assistant Director of HR at LAUSD, there are no vacancies as of the 2022/2023 school year. He stated via all positions have been filled. There are lots of teachers I know who have applied and received the same email from Mr. Gomez.

  2. Lynn Cevallos 1 month ago1 month ago

    Given that LAUSD covers 710 square miles in a densely populated, traffic-clogged region, redeployment may be impossible for teachers. I recall sitting at a LAUSD board meeting about a decade ago where board members discussed removing teachers from their eligibility pool when the teacher does not take an open position offered. The discussion did not include whether or not it was physically possible for a teacher to take a position. I know, as a single … Read More

    Given that LAUSD covers 710 square miles in a densely populated, traffic-clogged region, redeployment may be impossible for teachers. I recall sitting at a LAUSD board meeting about a decade ago where board members discussed removing teachers from their eligibility pool when the teacher does not take an open position offered. The discussion did not include whether or not it was physically possible for a teacher to take a position. I know, as a single mom who needs to drive my children to school, it would be physically impossible for me to commute several hours to work each way.

    I hope the district doesn’t lose good teachers due to policies that require teachers to do the impossible.

  3. Ellen 2 months ago2 months ago

    This is false information. At my small LAUSD schools we have at least 3 vacancies. One is being filled by a librarian, 1 by a sub and one is being filled through auxiliaries: teachers working on their conference periods. So if we have 3 vacancies there have to be over 1000 vacancies in the district.

  4. Brenda Lebsack- Teacher 2 months ago2 months ago

    Amina, go back and get your credential and do your student teaching. It’s unfair to students to have teachers who are not prepared for the job. A BA is not enough. That extra year where you are taught methodology, classroom management, and are mentored by veteran teachers is essential. (unless this extra year requirement has been hijacked by “woke” indoctrination)

  5. Amina Ausman 2 months ago2 months ago

    I am an undergraduate, a BA in Mathematics from CSUN. Yet my earnest wish or dream to be a Math teacher is practically slim if not impossible because I don’t have the teaching credentials as required by the district .

    Replies

    • el 2 months ago2 months ago

      Amina, though I would encourage you to enroll in a program to get your full teaching credential and get the classroom management training that can be so essential for success in teaching math, as mentioned in the article many of the positions were filled with emergency or intern credentials. If LAUSD does not have a position for you, it's likely there are other districts that do and can and will help support you as you … Read More

      Amina, though I would encourage you to enroll in a program to get your full teaching credential and get the classroom management training that can be so essential for success in teaching math, as mentioned in the article many of the positions were filled with emergency or intern credentials. If LAUSD does not have a position for you, it’s likely there are other districts that do and can and will help support you as you earn your full credential. If you go this route, ask carefully about what supports will be offered to you as a new teacher and consider that finishing your credential while also teaching full-time is a heavy load.

      Another option to consider is substitute teaching, which only requires the bachelor’s degree. It doesn’t pay well but every district I know is short of substitutes and it may help you to decide if this is the direction you want to go before you commit to your credential program.

      Although it’s ideal to have teachers fully trained through the system before they enter the classroom, I’ve seen a few extraordinary individuals who were excellent teachers even in their first year through the emergency credential programs. (Often they already had some unofficial teaching experience, having worked as TAs or in private schools or other kid services.) Beware of districts that have a large number of new or undertrained teachers that they can’t possibly support, but one or two at a time in a supportive environment can be successfully raised up for the mutual benefit of everyone. Your BA in math would make you an attractive candidate for many districts.

      Best wishes for finding your path in education.

    • Retired teacher 2 months ago2 months ago

      Please look again if you have a math degree you can teach while learning how to teach. Many programs to help you while getting paid.

  6. Julie V. Ervin 2 months ago2 months ago

    I’m an English Teacher (w/Masters Degree & Credential). My application for LAUSD continues to bounce from one recruiter to another. If there is a need for teachers, why is Human Resources dragging their feet completing the process of my application? So I can be placed on the Eligibility List & apply to vacant positions? Please help. Thanks. Julie (available & ready to work ASAP).

    Replies

    • Ellen 2 months ago2 months ago

      You might want to try calling schools directly in your area.

    • Anonymous 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

      I hear ya: It’s so much false information on LAUSD parts. There is no shortage according to them. Yet, there is consistent advertisement on the radio, websites and through edjoin that they need teachers. You tell me, how did over 2,000 teaching positions get filled in a matter of months? I think they hire who they want. Do yourself a favor and go seek other districts. They will be happy to take you.

  7. Brenda Lebsack 2 months ago2 months ago

    In spite of the drastic teacher shortage, many excellent teachers in LAUSD were let go this year. WHY? Those teachers who did not get vaccinated in LAUSD were told they could not teach in person when schools re-opened. They were only allowed to teach virtually. In spite of decreased restrictions from CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7133e1.htm?s_cid=mm7133e1_w, unvaccinated teachers in LAUSD were still not allowed back in the classroom. Because virtual enrollments … Read More

    In spite of the drastic teacher shortage, many excellent teachers in LAUSD were let go this year. WHY? Those teachers who did not get vaccinated in LAUSD were told they could not teach in person when schools re-opened. They were only allowed to teach virtually. In spite of decreased restrictions from CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7133e1.htm?s_cid=mm7133e1_w, unvaccinated teachers in LAUSD were still not allowed back in the classroom. Because virtual enrollments decreased at the start of this school year, these unvaccinated LAUSD teachers were laid off, with not much notice to find another job. CDC’s Greta Massetti statement about the new guidance was, “This guidance…. helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives,” However, what Greta does not acknowledge, is that many people’s lives continue to be severely disrupted or overhauled due to unreasonable employers like LAUSD.

  8. Victor Gonzalez 2 months ago2 months ago

    The drop in student enrollment and the redistribution (“norming”) of classrooms mitigated the effects of the shortage.

  9. Frances O'Neill Zimmerman 2 months ago2 months ago

    Superintendent Carvalho has taken on the challenge of leading Los Angeles Unified and is planning to redirect attention to student learning. He is insisting on certificated instructors in all classrooms and is extending the school year by four days for optional voluntary staff inservice training. Soon he will be opening contract negotiations with the teachers' union which wants a 20% raise and reprises the past fuzzy "social-emotional wellness" focus over the hard facts of … Read More

    Superintendent Carvalho has taken on the challenge of leading Los Angeles Unified and is planning to redirect attention to student learning. He is insisting on certificated instructors in all classrooms and is extending the school year by four days for optional voluntary staff inservice training.

    Soon he will be opening contract negotiations with the teachers’ union which wants a 20% raise and reprises the past fuzzy “social-emotional wellness” focus over the hard facts of declining academic achievement and disappearing enrollment.

    A legion of student mariachi bands cannot drown out the thunder of the coming storm: this is going to be a clash of the titans. I hope Carvalho finds a way forward for students.

  10. Jim 2 months ago2 months ago

    The biggest improvement for LAUSD would be to clear out 333 S Beaudry. Telling the central administrators to go to work at a school site or find other employment would pay many benefits.

    Replies

    • Lynn 1 month ago1 month ago

      Amen, brother.

    • Jim 1 month ago1 month ago

      From the LA Times this morning

      “Carvalho also said he has ordered a hiring freeze for any positions not located on a school campus. “The bureaucracy has unnecessary and costly duplication,’ he said.”

      Maybe there is a glimmer of hope.