Shortage of special education teachers affects students across state

A special education teacher shortage is affecting students and families all across the state.
Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 10:48 PM EST
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ROCKY HILL, Conn. (WFSB) - A special education teacher shortage is affecting students and families all across the state.

The state’s Department of Education says, shortages of special education teachers has been a problem since before 2020, but the pandemic has made things worse.

“Things are bad, very bad,” said Stephanie Wanzer, Special Education Teacher.

As a special education teacher, Stephanie is seeing the impacts of this shortage firsthand.

“Say a kid has a certain amount of speech services they need,” said Stephanie. “If you don’t have a speech person who works with you, they’re not getting those speech services.”

She says one school district is down 70 special education teachers, and students in districts across the state are not getting the support they need.

As a result, she says more work is being put onto special education teachers who are working.

“You’re taking on other people’s cases because there’s nobody to fill, and that’s becoming really difficult,” said

The State’s Department of Education is aware of the problem.

They say there are students with ‘individualized education programs’ that are not being met and is taking action to try to address the issue.

“We’ve employed a Connecticut specific special education employment system,” said Bryan Klimkiewicz, Special Education Division Director, State Department of Education. “It’s not going to resolve the situation as a whole in the state, but it is an important strategy and an effective one in recruiting.”

On Wednesday, the Department of Education approved another round of emergency certifications for the upcoming school year. These allow special education teachers certified to teach kindergarten through 12 grade students to also teach preschool special education students.

“When vacancies are in place, schools are utilizing their tool belts and variety of mechanism for short term, medium term and long term solutions,” said Bryan.

A Hartford Public Schools spokesperson says the district is actively recruiting from nearby colleges and bringing back retired special education teachers on a part time basis.