Teacher resignations on the rise in Central Florida as educators struggle to make living wage

Orange County reports 32% increase in teacher resignations

ORLANDO, Fla. – Real estate agent Bryant Dorricott is selling homes so he can buy his own. It’s a dream he said was not possible when he was a public school teacher.

“I was a teacher for Brevard County Public Schools for ten years,” Dorricott said. “I loved it. I sure did. Teaching is great. Being in front of the kids and being on stage, every single day is wonderful. It’s all the extra stuff that makes it difficult.”

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For Dorricott, that included things like 12-hour days for eight hours of pay, unrealistic goals, pandemic health concerns and low wages.

“That was a huge reason why I decided to change careers. Your earning potential, being a teacher is capped. I mean, it just is. Now I am in a profession where my earning potential is first and foremost,” he continued.

News 6 found Dorricott isn’t alone. Teacher resignations in our local public school districts are on the rise, numbers which we found publicly displayed on many local school board agendas or received from a district’s human resources division.

Brevard County Public Schools, according to school board agenda data provided by the Brevard Federation of Teachers union, reported 825 teachers resigned last year (2020-2021), a number which is up 28% from the 644 teachers who resigned the year before (2019-2020).

In Seminole County, the public school district confirmed 676 teachers resigned last year (2020-2021), up 15% from the 588 teachers who resigned the year before (2019-2020).

Lake County Public Schools saw a three percent increase in resignations last year (2020-2021) compared to the year before (2019-2020), according to school board agendas reviewed by the Lake County Education Association.

According to Osceola County Public Schools’ Human Resources Department, 103 teachers resigned in the first 14 weeks of school last year (2020-2021), up 24% from 83 teachers who resigned during the same timeframe the year before (2019-2020).

As for the largest district in Central Florida, Orange County Public Schools saw an 32% increase in teacher resignations when 1,536 teachers resigned in 2020-2021 compared to the 1,168 teachers who resigned the year prior (2019-2020), according to data provided by the district’s human resources department.

“I’m not surprised at all,” said Wendy Doromal, president of the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association. “82% do not trust or have faith in district or in school board leaders. They feel disrespected. It was a terrible year last year, and they say this year is even worse. They are resigning because of the pay because they do not feel valued. They do not want to be working until 11 o’clock every night or have to give up one weekend day to catch up on schoolwork.”

In a statement to News 6, when about the resignation increase, a Brevard County Public Schools’ spokesperson said, “We continue to recruit for all open positions across the district and are always eager to talk with candidates who have a passion for education and for service.”

In an email, Orange County’s public affairs office blamed the 32% increase in resignations this past year on a decrease in resignations during the pandemic and noted that resignation numbers from two years ago more closely mirror the most recent school year.

“Keep in mind that positions have been added over the years so the percentage of resignations may have actually decreased,” said a spokesperson for Osceola County Public Schools.

In previous stories, district spokespersons have said vacancy positions are getting filled, but Doromal said parents should question the quality of these new hires.

“There are permanent subs in classrooms in the schools, and that means it is not a qualified teacher. It is someone who might not have certification in the subject they are teaching. It is not a teacher. It is a permanent sub,” Doromal said. “(The districts) do not count those as vacancies, so it is kind of deceptive.”

And if you ask qualified teachers with ten years of service, like Dorricott, one thing could fix a lot.

“I think, what would be fair and what would have kept me is (a salary) somewhere around between $55,000 and $60,000,” Dorricott told News 6 investigator Merris Badcock. “I think that it would have made a lot more sense to me. I would have been able to purchase a home in a safe neighborhood. I just think that that would be at least a good starting point.”